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24 April 2014

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Blog Reviews from The List

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Trying out quirky places to eat, drink and be merry in London - follow @matthew1hickman or sign up for email updates below


  1. Published : Monday, 21st April 2014

    La Mancha | La Mancha

    I'll just finish up by mentioning a quick tapas trip to La Mancha back in March. I was feeling a bit worse for wear at the time (man flu), but I soldiered on and filled up with 13 courses (life is tough) from Head Chef Senor Nilo Geada. Family-run La Mancha recently relocated to Chiswick after many years in Putney, joining the likes of Franco Manca, Charlotte's Bistro and Outsider Tart in an increasingly exciting area for food and drink. The friendly owner Salvatore made us feel very welcome. We got off to a strong start with Pimientos de Padron (sweet hot peppers from Galicia, sautéed in olive oil) and Berejenas Fritas (crispy aubergines with honey and Romesco sauce) impressing, alongside some moreish Rebenada de pan con tomate (Bread, chopped fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil)...

  2. Published : Friday, 11th April 2014

    The Cat & Mutton | The Cat & Mutton

    A quick bus ride took Taro, Lucy and I over to Broadway Market to check out the 300 year old Cat & Mutton pub, which has recently been refurbished and relaunched with food from Licky Chops and Pearl's cocktail bar upstairs from the Ruby's Dalston team. The ground floor pub was buzzing with locals even though it was supposedly not opening for another 2 days. They have done an excellent job with the décor on both floors - see Tuck and Vine's photos for a better idea. After Mother Kelly's, the beers were always going to struggle to impress, but two Meantime taps will keep most happy. The Licky Chops food menu is slightly reduced in the pub area, so we swirled up the attractive spiral staircase to grab a table at Pearl's, the first floor restaurant / cocktail bar...

  3. Published : Tuesday, 8th April 2014

    La Polenteria | La Polenteria

    Last week I made my way over to La Polenteria in Soho with one of my siblings, Sister Jo, hoping that she might produce some overdue birthday presents. She sadly arrived empty handed, but I soon forgot once we were greeted by our awesome waiter, Francesco, who kept us royally entertained throughout our meal. La Polenteria specialises in, surprise surprise, polenta-based dishes. Fat free, gluten free, high in fibre, no cholesterol - makes a change from pulled pork, burgers and triple-cooked chips! Polenta dishes are hard to come by in London, unlike in the north of Italy where polenta is said to "run inside the veins" of the people, so La Polenteria may just be on to something...

  4. Published : Monday, 7th April 2014

    Hill & Szrok | Hill and Szrok

    Offering raw meat by day and braised, roasted and potted meat by night, Hill and Szrok is a great addition to Broadway Market. Its clean and shiny tiled interior is hung with butcher shop instruments and a great wooden butcher's block table sits in the centre, serving as a communal dining table in the evening. On arrival early one evening last week I met an instant convert - the friendly gentlemen sitting next to me soon informed me that he'd been in the night before with his wife for a ribeye steak and it was so good he couldn't keep away the next. Three courses later, we were inclined to agree...

  5. Published : Friday, 4th April 2014

    Gillray's Steakhouse | Gillray's Steakhouse

    The night before Edwins and Cecil's, I spent a rare evening out with my father as we were both invited over to Gillray's Steakhouse & Bar in London Marriott Hotel County Hall. I was attracted by the +70 gins behind the bar, but my Dad's angle was that he once worked in the same building when it was home to the Greater London Council (GLC). Here's what he had to say: "It was fascinating to visit the Marriott Hotel, having worked in the building as an administrative officer for the Greater London Council from 1969 until its abolition by Mrs Thatcher in 1986, and subsequently for the London Residuary Body, which devolved all the GLC’s powers to the London Boroughs and various quangos from then until I was made redundant in 1992. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that there is still some ex GLC officer (like a Japanese soldier believing World War Two is in progress) in a room in County Hall deciding where some GLC powers should be allocated!...

  6. Published : Wednesday, 2nd April 2014

    Barnyard | Barnyard

    Is anyone else disappointed that Ollie Dabbous didn't choose the United Arab Emirates for his second site and call it Abu Dabbous? No? Just me then. Instead, Ollie has followed up his Michelin-starred restaurant on Whitfield Street with Barnyard, a totally different kettle of fish (or barn of meat?) on Charlotte Street round the corner. He's not cooking there himself, but he's heavily involved as is master mixologist Oskar Kinsberg who run's Oskar's Bar beneath Dabbous. You supposedly can't get a table for months at Dabbous, but Barnyard has a no reservations policy, so I went along when it opened at midday for lunch with my Dad (who wrote about Dabbous on The List a while ago). There was no queue, though I don't expect it to be this way for long. Hopefully everyone will continue to be distracted by Bubbledogs round the corner. The décor at Barnyard is fun - white picket fences, indoor trees, oil drum chairs and more kept my eyes wandering throughout the meal...

  7. Published : Thursday, 27th February 2014

    Andina | Andina

    ina was my February treat. Having thoroughly enjoyed a previous visit to Martin Morales' Ceviche in Soho I was keen to get booked in as soon as I heard about it. We sat down at 6.45pm on a Wednesday and were pleasantly surprised to find the place already quite full despite the ongoing tube strike. We started with a couple of house cocktails, which having tried the pisco sours in Ceviche were a slight disappointment, a little too sugary for my tastes. I stuck to beer thereafter. The food, however, was a different story. Starting with a street eat and a ceviche, we ordered the prawn & quinoa chowder and the seabass ceviche. Both were tinged with chilli, warming and full of flavour. For mains we chose the lamb skewers and the three potato cakes with varieties of fish. Again, superb flavours and pleasing presentation...

  8. Published : Monday, 24th February 2014

    Restaurant Story | Restaurant Story

    This week I cashed in one of my most long-awaited Christmas presents - a ten course dinner at Tom Sellers' Restaurant Story which opened in April 2013. It received good reviews en masse during last year and featured on many of the 'best new restaurants of 2013' lists released over the new year period. Restaurant Story recently gained its first Michelin star. The restaurant has a clean, natural feel; lots of wood and stoneware. As many have said before, there are clear Scandinavian influences (Sellers used to work at Noma). There is also a literary theme - our menu arrived in the leaves of a grand old copy of Dickens' 'Our Mutual Friend' and Sellers seems to have replaced décor and ornaments for books even down to the toilets; I was unenthused by the large tome of tax codes in my cubicle. ..

  9. Published : Monday, 17th February 2014

    Pelt Trader | Pelt Trader

    Pelt Trader opened up round the corner from Cannon Street Station back in March and sat atop my craft beer bar wishlist for many months before I finally made it in December. With more than 16 exciting beers on tap at once, discerning City drinkers (they exist) finally have somewhere to go for a good pint. The range of beer is superb and well priced. We stuck to halves to get through the likes of Moor Raw, Weird Beard Hive Mind, Lagunitas IPA, Tiny Rebel Zool, and To Øl Frostbite from Denmark. There's normally a German lager, a cider, a wheat beer and a fruit beer of some kind to keep everyone happy (plus wine, spirits etc for kids). On the food front, there are Ray's enormous 18" pizzas and £4 Mountain Meat boards..

  10. Published : Tuesday, 21st January 2014

    Moo Cantina | Moo Cantina

    I managed to convince 18 hungry musicians to head over to Moo Cantina for half priced Argentinean steaks and snacks, late on a Thursday night after a 3 hour rehearsal. The 50% offer is running til January 31st so there is plenty of time for you all to pop in! We were pleased to find that Moo Cantina is actually run by Argentineans rather than British imitators, and our hosts were extremely winning throughout our stay. They have confidently set up in a very large site in Pimlico, with a big central bar area and plenty of room for diners around, all decorated very nicely. They show live sport, though the TVs don't dominate the restaurant - this could be a very fun place to come next summer for Argentina matches...

  11. Published : Thursday, 26th December 2013

    Five Guys | Five Guys

    We moved swiftly on to Five Guys, just round the corner near Leicester Square tube, where we were joined by a hungry Rosie who was sad to miss the first round. They clearly have their eyes on world domination and have already planned to open a load more stores in the UK next year. A second branch opened recently in Islington. Their calling card is free toppings. Once you have decided between regular, cheese, cheese and bacon etc, the rest (pickles, mushrooms, onions, peppers etc) is on the house. Naturally, we ordered everything...

  12. Published : Thursday, 31st October 2013

    Effra Social | Effra Social

    The night was still fairly young when we left The Courtesan, so we decided to squeeze in a quick trip to nearby Effra Social. Team List visited here a couple of months ago, but a comedy night was well under way downstairs so we didn't get to see the main room. I'm glad I made a return visit as we had a grand old time dancing away to obscure soul music & drinking pints of Truman Lazarus and bottles of Beavertown 8-Ball, with sheet music hanging above our heads on washing lines. There seemed to be 4 DJs all working at once having an absolute blast on the small stage, which added to the already very relaxed atmosphere. It almost has a wedding / student union type feel to it which is infinitely preferable to going clubbing in my opinion. There's dancing, it's open late, it's free to get in, you get pints rather than £6 bottles of Sol, you can still have a conversation and there is space for all of your friends! What's not to love?...

  13. Published : Monday, 5th August 2013

    Red Dog Saloon | Red Dog Saloon

    Red Dog Saloon is an "Authentic American BBQ", housed in an attractive and well placed space on the corner Hoxton Square. We sat at the bar as there weren't any tables free, but it's arguably the best place to sit anyway as you always get great service from barstaff. We quickly munched our way through some tasty pulled pork buns with Magaritas and Schooners of Samuel Adams on the side. The award winning hickory smoked ribs also looked wonderful as they went past. For the brave and hungry, there is The Devastator Challenge...

  14. Published : Tuesday, 14th May 2013

    Mr Fogg's | Mr.Fogg

    I met Team List (Lauren, Natalie and her flatmate Arwa - Maggie arrived later) at Green Park and we walked up to Berkeley Square and down a quiet side road. Upon entering through the discreet front door, we were greeted by Passepartout (Mr. Fogg's French Valet) who took our coats and showed us in to the bar. Our barman for the evening was the hilarious Fabiano Pereira who flitted in and out of character for our amusement. After ordering a round of cocktails, Fabiano decided to give us a 'tour' of the house which basically involved him making up stories about the wall ornaments...