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22 August 2014

Restaurants & Bars

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Blog Reviews from Martini Mandate

(menu)

your ideas shaken and stirred


  1. I was visiting a temple to carnivores – and perhaps just male ones. I can’t imagine a well brought up woman wanting to eat at a place called Beast. A beast of a bear and a young eastern european beauty with a lilting accent and first world teeth greeted us in the foyer. The bronze statue of the bear is the beast the restaurant’s named after, although confusingly bear is not on the menu. In fact there is no menu. One is fed a giant Norwegian Red King crab and a big slab of aged Nebraskan Black Angus, bookended by cheese and dessert. That’s it. It’s a posh take on surf and turf, that perennial blue collar date dish, at £75 a head (about US$ 125)...

  2. Published : Thursday, 29th May 2014

    Gymkhana | If You are Brown, You Must Work in IT

    The banqueting manager of the five star hotel came rushing out to greet the marketing director of our company. The hotel was on a short list of possible venues for a conference we were planning. ”Oh I’m so glad you came back,” gushed the banqueting manager and then, looking at me and mini me she added “oh, and I’m so happy you brought your IT team with you!” I was duly introduced as the CEO while my colleagues struggled to keep straight faces. I could hear little strangled giggles throughout our hotel tour as the banqueting manager desperate to make amends offered us “coffee, breakfast, anything? It’s on the house…” I made a point of inspecting the power outlets and phone sockets...

  3. The decor is all polished concrete, grey painted walls, blonde wood slats and granite – a la Hakkasan. The soundtrack plays Bowie, the Stones and some vintage Michael Jackson. Nice. Margeaux broke the ice by explaining that while her name is spelled the French way she is actually from LA. I thanked her for the insight into her heritage. We relaxed with cocktails while anticipating the main event; a ‘Ho’rny Devil (Lemongrass vodka, chilli, fresh coconut), a ‘Ho’groni (Campari, gin, bitters), and a Rum Yum Dragon (rum, berries, pomello, passionfruit). As is the case with most things in a whore house, the cocktails looked better than they tasted. While there were interesting flavours in each of the drinks, their combination didn’t result in much more than a sweet aftertaste...

  4. Published : Friday, 15th November 2013

    Duck & Waffle | Where Dirty Old Men Take Their Nieces to Lunch

    The Duck & Waffle is a restaurant struggling with its identity. It sounds like a pub, stays open 24 hours a day like a diner, yet aspires to be a fancy restaurant serving occasionally brilliant but sometime plain weird British food. The staff is inconsistently trained and dressed in cheap black Novotel inspired uniforms with nary a natural fibre. The food and wine prices are expensive, but not unusually so for this part of town. Small plates are around £10 (US$16) and larger plates “for the table” range from £17 to £38. The wine markups however are sometimes obscene. My companion recognized an inexpensive Springfield Estate Sauvignon Blanc priced at £58. It costs £10 at Waitrose. They also appear to have problems with corked wines – twice I’ve had to send bottles back. On one occasion the sommelier proffered the explanation that other bottles in the case had also been corked. Oh good! The service in the bar was so bad that on one occasion I was there people were getting up and leaving after thirstily soaking in the view...

  5. Published : Wednesday, 26th June 2013

    Tsunami | When Alcohol and Sex Don’t Mix

    I drank an Oyster Martini. It’s not a drink I ever wanted to have. It sounds slimy and suspect. However, I was in a good mood after a day at the Oval Cricket Grounds watching Sri Lanka beat Australia and the bartender convinced me to order an Oyster Martini. I was drinking up a storm at Tsunami, an unfortunately named Japanese restaurant with branches in the West End of London and in Clapham, South London. The martini in question was a dirty vodka martini (a “dirty” martini has olive brine poured into the vodka). It was unexpectedly delicious. Served super chilled, the brine of the dirty martini combines well with the saltiness of the oyster...

  6. Golden Boroniya, a Singaporean flower child with a sweet tooth taught me how to drink with the Chinese. The key is to have plenty of absorbent napkins on hand and ready access to a potted plant. Golden Boroniya visited London recently. We met for lunch at Bo London. Bo London is the creation of Alvin Leung, the self-taught “Demon Chef” whose combination of traditional Chinese recipes and modern molecular gastronomic cooking methods is branded “X-treme Chinese”. Alvin has been awarded two Michelin stars for his cooking at Bo Innovation in Hong Kong. Bo Innovation is one of my favourite restaurants in Hong Kong. I was looking forward to the London incarnation...

  7. Published : Tuesday, 12th March 2013

    Camino King's Cross | Death becomes Chavez

    I joined Mini Me and the Irish Cyclist at Camino Cruz del Rey (literally the path to the cross of the king) in the Regent’s Quarter, in King’s Cross. It’s not the most promising part of town to look for food and wine, but Camino and Bar Pepito, it’s sibling sherry bar across a courtyard, are a unique find. This is a sprawling restaurant encompassing two decent sized rooms, the tiny sherry bar across the courtyard and lots of outdoor tables connecting the two. In the main restaurant we sat under a glass dome in a casual light filled room with rough wooden tables, leather banquettes, a zinc topped bar with low stools and plain grey flooring punctuated with splashes of colour from traditional Moorish tiles...

  8. I wandered through the streets of East London recently in the gathering gloom, searching for a bar named Callooh Callay. A couple of older queens leered at me, looking like a pair of pedarastic Anglican bishops who’d been locked up in a distillery all night. I was glad to locate my drinking companion the Zebra Striped Gourmand, a man who makes his own bitters and butchers his own meat. A handy friend to have if you ever need to dismember someone and dissolve them in alcohol...

  9. Published : Monday, 7th January 2013

    Bubbledogs | A dominatrix feeds champagne to a horny dog.

    Happy New Year! I hope this finds you rested and rearing to go. The two weeks of sloth leading up to the first day of work in the New Year is a dead time in London. It is also a great time to eat at hot restaurants without the usual scrum to get in. That was my theory anyway as I made my way to Bubbledogs on Charlotte Street in London, late on a wet Saturday afternoon. Charlotte Street has now gone all genteel. Time was when its most famous resident was Theresa Berkley, an early 19th century dominatrix who ran a brothel specialising in flagellation. Up the road from the old whorehouse is Bubbledogs, which serves hotdogs with champagne. That’s all they serve. No starters, no coffee, no dessert, no whips, no cuffs, no Shades of Grey. There are veggie hot dogs for vegetarians, but you really shouldn’t come to a hot dog restaurant if you are a fruit and nut type...

  10. Published : Wednesday, 5th September 2012

    Tramshed | Cock Shots and the Candidates: The US Election Issue

    The US election season is upon us. Americans get to choose between pachyderms and donkeys. The rest of the world looks on with a fascination normally reserved for train wrecks. On the left we have a chap who can make …

  11. The Olympics are over. It’s been rather good – typically quirky, occasionally brilliant and thoroughly British. The underground transport system, the world’s oldest, didn’t fall over. The weather wasn’t awful. The TV coverage was full of Brits bringing home medals...