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28 July 2014

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Blog Reviews from Lady Aga

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A blog dedicated to recipes, cakes, baking, restaurants and booze


  1. Published : Sunday, 18th May 2014

    Fera at Claridge's | Fera at Claridge's

    Fera as in wild - like feral. It’s Latin and it’s also the latest dining installation at Claridges hotel from Simon Rogan who hails from, most notably, L’Enclume up in Cumbria; a two Michelin star establishment with a heavy focus on foraging and locality. I’ve never been, but I know people who have and they say it’s better than The Fat Duck. Wild is perhaps not an attribute you would necessarily align with Claridges hotel; one of London’s chicest hospitality destinations - all elegant sophistication and not in the least bit untamed. I might have felt a little vulnerable and prey-like having flung myself through the revolving doors into Claridges vast urban safari of Art Deco luxe and encountered a distinct lack of enthusiasm to show me to the dining room but, once you’ve located the red velvet curtains of Fera, it’s hospitality central. The staff are so charming and pitch-perfect in their reception it’s almost comical. It also helps that they all look, well, just so damned good! I particularly loved the girl’s uniforms of colourblock navy and black long sleeved shift dresses; a look that The Blonde summed up as ‘futuristic air hostess’...

  2. Published : Wednesday, 30th April 2014

    La Poule au Pot | La Poule au Pot, Ebury Street, London

    On the all too rare occasions that London is graced with a blue and cloudless sky, al fresco drinking and dining are on my immediate and essential agenda. So, when the weather is looking comme ca… …may I suggest you pick up the phone to La Poule au Pot in Pimlico, muster up your finest franglais and book yourself a terrace table. You could even, if you’re feeling energetic and visiting on a Saturday, arrive slightly earlier to peruse the farmer’s market that takes place every weekend just next door on Mozart Square. I’ve never made it down time to witness said stalls, but the chat is that they’re goodies. Anyway, La Poule: the surroundings are charming, the food is generous, hearty, and Gallic, and, in all my visits, quality has been solid and dependable. The Blonde does occasionally whine about one chewy steak in 2012, but other than that we are all good with the PoP. It’s also reasonably easy to snag a table (I booked the day before and got a terrace seat, no problems). Plus, it’s pretty decent value with three courses for just under £25...

  3. Word to the wise: One Leicester Street isn’t sign-posted from Sodom & Gomorrah (aka Leicester Square) so make sure you plot your route carefully, or just access from China Town. You have been warned… It’s worth the trauma though, because there’s nothing more comforting than surveying hectic scenes of the West End when you’re ensconced in their dining room with a basket of crusty bread, some creamy butter and a vintage boule of Nyetimber in your hand whilst you peruse a very appealing menu. We were taking advantage of the value early bird pre-theatre menu. At two courses for £16 and three for £19 it’s something of a bargain, especially since One Leicester Street has a Michelin star to its name...

  4. Set back from the bustling piazza (/touristic-nighmare) of Covent Garden and running parallel to Drury Lane, lies Catherine Street - a short strada that packs a punch when it comes to the act of mange. It’s home to part of rock’n’roll restauranteur Russell Norman’s expansive real estate; the boozy Jewish deli, Mishkins. It also houses a tranche of Salt Yard Group’s sharp Spanish/Italian dining acts, Opera Tavern. Now there’s a new kid on the block and he goes by the name of Augustus Harris. An evening-only gem of a Venetian wine bar with a snack-tastic selection of bites, Italian wines and a bittersweet cocktail selection...

  5. Published : Thursday, 16th January 2014

    The Dairy Bar & Bistro | The Dairy, Clapham Old Town

    Here’s a First World problem and a half… The Blonde and I rewarded ourselves for completing Year One of marriage with a rather awesome seven course tasting menu with matching wine at The Dairy in Clapham Old Town. It was completely epic but, here’s the thing, I don’t really remember the exact specifics of what graced our plates on that indulgent afternoon back in October. My iphone does and we kept the menu but, still, some things don’t quite add up - like the pudding I’d convinced myself was chocolate but is listed as salted caramel. Puzzling. Whether this is connected to Damiano (he being the sommellier) and his matching wine component, or just the passing of time, I wouldn’t like to say but, hazy memories aside, you need to know about this place because it is Uh-maze-ing. The interior belies just how seriously they’re taking the food - exposed brickwork, neon signage, vintage mis-matched cutlery and casual school-style seating was more suggestive of hipster tapas bar; all these elements conspire to offset expectations as to just how good the food is going to be...

  6. Just a casual stroll from the frenzy that is Covent Garden piazza, there exists an oasis of calm sophistication and old school opulence; Rules is London’s oldest restaurant, famous for it’s game and classic British fare. It is also, arguably, London’s best cocktail bar. Upstairs is where the ‘mixology’ magic happens - here you’ll find cosy carpeting, heavy upholstery, original fireplaces, wood paneling and lots of red. There is a definite time capsule feel to the decor but, come Christmas, it’s got to be one of the most festive places to indulge in an artfully muddled cocktail...

  7. Published : Tuesday, 3rd December 2013

    Smokehouse | The Smokehouse, Canonbury Road, London N1

    To mark the return of my number one homme, a serious lunch was in order. When it comes to lunching, we are competitive professionals of the field; it’s the only team sport at which we’ve ever truly excelled. And so to The Smokehouse, relative newbie within walking distance of our abode. It’s run by the same crew as local-ish gastropub, The Pig and Butcher whose mission statement is quality and awesomeness incarnate so we had an inkling it would be good. It was a pleasure to see key P&B players had been transferred across to The Smokehouse to keep things on top form - this place isn’t just good, it’s ridiculous, in the best possible way. But don’t just take my word for it, have a look for yourselves...

  8. Published : Wednesday, 13th November 2013

    Season Kitchen | Season Kitchen & Dining Room, Stroud Green Road

    It’s not the newest kid on the block, but with every trip to this lovely little restaurant we’re lucky enough to call our local, the food gets better and better. It’s a bit unassuming from the outside, so here’s an exterior shot should you feel like a trip to N4 to check out Season for yourselves… …because, let’s face it, no one’s going to win any sign lighting awards for that discreet number… …and a quick glance around the interior with it’s nonchalant mi-casa-es-su-casa vibes. The menu is printed on tracing paper - nice touch - and the bread might just be better than Zucca’s - a sort of soda/ wheaten hybrid. It’s sticky and treacly and I like that in a carb. I like it a lot...

  9. Published : Wednesday, 6th November 2013

    The Star Inn the City | Star Inn The City, York

    Celebrate Good Times: My number one restaurant has a sibling and it’s quite the beauty. A brand spanking-new build in York’s historic Museum Gardens, overlooking both flora, fauna, city walls and the river - scenically it’s got it all going on and the food’s pretty darned beautiful too; just as one would expect from the legendary Andrew Pern and his partner in crime, Justin Brosenitz. Inside you can expect comforting furnishings as per the countryside original but with a city slickness in the form of glass walls, panoramic views and a few random modern design touches...

  10. The Rooftop Cafe is the only restaurant at which I’ve eaten and then immediately booked myself in for a meal the following week. It was that good. The panoramic views are nothing short of sensational - I defy anyone not to get snap-happy when faced with this vista. Even Elephant and Castle looks relatively charming from three floors up with a herbaceous border!...

  11. The menus at Hix get me every time- it’s as though Mark has read my mind and appetite and synced up his kitchen solely to accommodate that particular personal greed. Right at the top you’ve got deep fried oysters in local cider batter. Um, obvs...

  12. Published : Thursday, 27th June 2013

    The Ledbury | The Ledbury: Lucky Number 13

    I’d visited Notting Hill’s culinary institution, The Ledbury, just once - some ten years ago, shortly after it had opened, and I still remember it as being pretty much the most exciting meal of my life...So how would it fare a decade later? Answer: This is a restaurant at the top of its game and showing no signs of stopping- both food and service are the best on offer. Brett Graham’s cooking and his crew’s razor-sharp service combine to create that awesome effect of the restaurant ‘bubble’ - whereby you’re temporarily transported to a dream-like-state of relaxation, indulgence and satiation...

  13. The choice of venue for my birthday lunch was based on a nice visit to The Pig and Butcher last summer where we parked ourselves on the benches outside and had a few things from the snack menu. We dug the mini burger and The Blonde was particularly enamoured with the ‘mustard dance’- a serving phenomena exclusive to The Pig and Butcher (as far as I’m aware, anyway) whereby a charming waitress in a low cut top helps you to mustard. There’s a bit of dipping towards the table, a fair amount of jiggling as the condiment is tapped off the spoon onto the plate, and then there’s three varieties of mustard to work your way through. Beyonce aint got nothing on these girls...

  14. Published : Wednesday, 17th April 2013

    Zucca | Zucca Restaurant

    Oh Zucca, let me count the ways… elegant, seasonal and simplicity have become slightly cliched buzz-words for modern Italian dining but there’s a reason for this. It’s a winning formula and if it ain’t broke… another of Zucca’s joys lies in their thoroughly affordable menu; on the latest visit there wasn’t a main course over £17...