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Italian StallionIt happened again, a new favourite to add to my list of ever growing 'favourites'. Here at Bocca di Lupo (which appropriately means 'into the mouth of the wolf'), you'll find a different and more authentic take on Italian dining.Choose from different sized sharing plates which you can mix and match to your heart's and stomach's content before you focus your attention on the delicious and award-winning wine pairings that compliment the dishes and with a large array of both to choose from, you'll be hankering for a return visit to try them all. Freshly grilled fish will be prepared infront of your drooling lips along with a sublime, creamy duck ragu papardelle to rival the best of it's kind (Trullo, you have some competition)! Our feast also included a pulled pork salad, Pumpkin flowers filled with mozzarella and a plate piled high with beans mixed in a chunky tomato sauce.I am a firm believer in being able to leave a restaurant in at least a semi-upright position instead of having to hire a crane to lift me out of my seat and Bocca Di Lupo have achieved the perfect balance of satisfyingly full but not bursting. The inventive menu is constantly being amended to keep in line with the season or chef preference and everything is prepared with a light simplicity leaving you feeling (almost) guilt-free. Tasty olives too. Glowing bulbs surround the diners who can either sit at the bar and observe the magic or be seated in a more traditional restaurant environment away from the grilling and chopping.And now for dessert. I couldn't resist the espresso gelato and my companion went for a creamy egg-based short coffee. Both were the sort of choices that send one spiralling into a caffeinated heaven to which I fully intend on finding again soon!After a cheeky trip to the toilets to check they lived up to the high standards set by the meal we had just inhaled (they did), it was home time.. (well, actually we hopped over to Opium, but I'll let you in on that secret another time)!The restaurant is a busy one and booking is a must as it is no secret to Soho. It's popularity reflects the quality and comfort oozing out into the street from the brightly lit windows and luring unsuspecting diners inside. Here we have something special and I am strongly considering moving into their kitchen.
Clockwork Chicken Chicken anybody? The Clockjack Oven has it covered and Soho can claim a rotisserie restaurant for it's very own. Whether it's a mid week chicken craving or a Sunday roast that you're in search of, Clockjack has made it's way into the pecking order (sorry) and serves up some pretty pleasing poulet in a wonderfully bright and fresh environment to eat in or take out.Recommended to us was this Briska pomegranate liquid heaven and apparently I now like cider, well this one anyway! It was delightfully refreshing with just the right amount of sweetness. Bottoms up! We began with a plate of greek style mezze with a delicious pepper and zucchini dip, tzatziki and houmous to share and the famed buttermilk chicken bites with creamy dipping sauce. Let the chicken adventure begin! The restaurant has a comfortably informal vibe and a great place to catch up with old (and new) friends.Between mouthfuls, have a go at the incredibly highbrow game of spot the chicken. Our brows felt considerably raised after this.The chickens turned and flamed in front of us and aromas of chicken goodness wafted around the restaurant. Having been brought up on a considerably chicken heavy diet, my nostalgia for the bird is unbounded and what better way to spend a Sunday lunchtime than in its company?!You can choose from a quarter (for the sensibly hungry), half (for the relatively ambitious) or whole chicken (for the monstrously hungry) â probably double it if youâre a strapping young lad. And then add the sauce or gravy of your choice. To accompany out chicken feast, we selected the bourbon infused sweetcorn which arrived in a delightful miniature pot. (Note to all the eligible bachelors out there, the way to my heart is definitely through le Creuset) and the dressed salad to add a nice bit a green!So we definitely didn't leave any space for dessert, ergo, we had dessert. A dark chocolate ganache and a vanilla cheesecake, both perfectly cut and placed upon slates infront of us. The buttery biscuit base to topping ratio was just right and went down an absolute treat.Checking the fantastic clockjack cog clock on the wall signalled our time had very much come to an end and it was time to dash off to The Royal Academy for yet more high brow activities.Check out what's on every day at Clockjack and skip on over for some chickeny delights. We had a scrumptious time, now it's your turn!
Our glasses clinked when champagne had been poured
Menus checked out and all diets ignored.
What else would my choice be
For Saturday brunch,
But the duck, egg and waffle
Upon which to munch.
Waiting to try this for many a moon
The time had arrived to pick up my spoon.
Drizzled with syrup,
All crunchy and gold,
My emotions for this one
Could not be controlled.
Whoever came up with this creation
Shall receive from me some adoration.
Our dishes polished off,
And hunger satisfied,
We turned to each other
Each one starry eyed.
We heaved ourselves up, not wanting to go
But now we had a hen party to throw!
Literary genius aside, we had a fabulous meal. The duck and waffle has made it to my top dishes of all time list and I now have the annoyance of waking up every weekend craving it. While the restaurant is open 24/7, booking is advisable and tables get reserved weeks in advance, I'm already formulating an excuse to return!
The hype over this 40th floor destination restaurant is all completely justified, the chefs and staff are superb while the presentation of both the food and venue itself are carefully thought out .. my theory is the yellow ceiling panels draw their inspiration from duck bills .. anyone with me?
I can't believe it's taken me so long to jump on the D & W bandwagon but now I'm totally hooked. Who wants to join me next time?
Jerusalem in LondonA little jaunt with two lovely young ladies brought me through the doors of The Palomar and from the moment you enter, the charisma and character is all encompassing. Even though I visited soon after it opening, there was no indication that it was a newborn. Bringing the taste of modern day Jerusalem and the experience of Machneyuda to the streets of Soho, Palomar has succeeded in serving up a cuisine that up until now has been an untapped resource in London. The mixture of herbs and spices that are so unique to Israel and the middle east are whipped up into a flavoursome frenzy and served up in mouth watering combinations.The staff were impeccably versed in the menu and in fact are even named on the menu â a delightfully personal touch.Palomar leaves it up to you to decide whether or not to share the dishes. They are served on boards and in silver platters for you to fight over or steal for yourself. While we were deciding, we tucked into what were some of the juiciest and flavoursome olives I think I have ever tasted, served in a little bucket with added spade!Wanting to taste a bit of everything, we went for a selection of dishes and short of licking the bowls clean, polished off every last morsel. First, the kubaneh, a brioche style bread which we dunked into tahini and a creamy tomato dips.A little gift from the chef came in the form of little spoons of polenta with a glob of mushroom puree and shards of parmesan. Not being a huge fan of any of the ingredients, I was surprised and delighted to discover these were little mouthfuls of heaven! Next up were the daily assorted meze; earthenware bowls of aubergine, beetroot, lentils, labneh and feta. These didn't last long, scooped and spooned till there was nothing left. There are two options for diners. Either, sit in the more sultry, leathery room just past the bar where you can spread your dishes all over the table, or the glowing pink raw bar that caters for walk-ins and those looking for a bit of an extra buzz (I believe thatâs what the kids are calling it nowadays .. note the bell).Have a cocktail while you wait or just watch the bar man whip it up in his multicoloured lair. Then watch the chefs at work as you nibble. Back to our table, the food had arrived. Chicken in buttermilk with greens, carrots and freekeh was tender, creamy and spicy all at once. Next up and served with pita, youghurt and tahini was the meaty shakshukit, a little like a deconstructed kebab. All I can say is thank goodness for deconstructed kebabs! Labeneh tortellini won the show for me, with butternut squash cream, mange tout and sweet tiny tomatoes served in a shining silver bowl. Mmmmm mm mmmm.Too stuffed to even attempt dessert, we grinned when some little chocolate truffles arrived unannounced (because it's a universally acknowledged fact that EVERYONE has space for something sweet even when they think they're fit to burst)!Thank you to my lovely dining companions and to The Palomar, a refreshing addition to Soho and one that totally deserves all the glowing reviews.
A Sip & a Show (and a story).Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin ...In London there sits a hidden cavern,It's name is Purl; a bright shining tavern.As one of the best bars in the city,This âsecretâ speakeasy is more than just pretty.People travel from far and wide,To experience the delights it holds inside.My story is one of a happy scale,A chance encounter with a fine young male.We sipped all evening at this fancy bar,Iâd give it a few, nay five gold stars!All the cocktails were creatively made,The flame-popped balloon was a game well played.Half the way through we adjourned downstairs,But this was no game of musical chairs.A piano and bass were playing away,All manner of jazz tunes to make us sway.So there we sat for an extra hour,Just enough time for a whiskey sour.We left feeling warm and very content,Purl is the one for your social event.Booking is definitely a wise plan,So boys grab your girl and ladies your man.Here is a gem for the little brown book,Itâs up to you now to go take a look!
Sips on the CanalSo you may or may not have gathered but I am a little bit of a fan of the London hunt. What I am more of a fan of is when somebody else suggests a place to explore. Better yet, when I havenât heard of said place. This exact chain of events occurred a few weekends ago and is what led me to The Proud Archivist in Haggerston.After a tiny jaunt down the canal we arrived at our destination, a collaboration of restaurant, gallery, bar and events space overlooking the water. How can you not be drawn in here?! With the evening light pouring in through the window there was really no way we were going anywhere else!At the bar we were served by a cheery beard after a little umming and ahhing due to being presented with all the perfectly arranged options you see below. Overwhelming much?! Unsurprisingly, it was Hendricks and tonic for me and a Savannah Dry for my fellow adventurer. To our right lay the restaurant with the tables retaining an air of semi-permanence that seemed appropriate since the stairs on the right led to a constantly changing gallery space where photographs and prints were hanging on display for sale.To our left was a large illuminated wall space which we couldn't help but be drawn to like moths to a flame and decided to make it our home for the time being. The intriguing photo/ light/ projected installations fixed to the walls provided much to talk about (come on, who doesnât love a good old bit of visual aid)!A rainbow with an afro casually sauntered past our table followed by wigs and beards galore .. apparently we had missed the memo, later discovering that a performance of the Crucifixion (or a loose version of) was taking place in the room next door... an Easter overflow perhaps?! We chose to focus on the psychedelia around us and pretend everything was as normal as ever.. Drinks drunk, we tipped our caps to the skull in the cage and crossed over to the restaurant to satisfy the oncoming rumbles. Menus presented on clipboards were placed in front of us and we were confronted with the irritating struggle of wanting everything.The food at The Proud Archivist is 'shaped by the seasons' and is locally inspired, swaying towards fresh, creative British dishes. We went for a trio of sliders, poached salmon and chunky chips although in the excitement I got distracted and forgot about the whole visual aid thing! Safe to say everything was delicious and all hit the spot. There is so much going on at the Proud Archivist ranging from theatre productions and book launches to 'sexy yoga'... I also imagine they are hugely open to any manner of suggestion and are committed to supporting the local community so if you have a bright idea, send it their way! They've also made it nice and simple with their life sized clipboard calendar to help everyone on the way to a better planned and consequently a more fun life (I'm totally on board with organised fun)!
Spirits & SyrupsSince its opening last year, there has been much buzz about Covent Garden's BYOC. While the concept of a cocktail bar without an alcohol license may cause a raised brow or two, they have adopted the BYO element but not as youâve ever experienced before. This is not your carpeted student curry house deal, this is a secret speakeasy with cocktail masters and a trolley laden with syrups, herbs, fruits and secret ingredients awaiting your tipple of choice.Having heard mixed reviews about this hidden-below-a-juice-bar establishment, it was high time for me to make up my own mind especially since the novelty of such a place had already sparked my curiosity and once sparked, that fire refuses to be extinguished! Because of its matchbox proportions, BYOC is a reservation-only affair. Like a breath of fresh air, my accomplice had been infected with a similar curiosity and cottoned onto the whole booking thing in advance so my invitation simply required me to turn up...a refreshing change when one is used to making all the plans!Upon entry to what really was a juice bar, we peered through the lemons and blenders to see a tiny staircase behind the counter. After we'd paid the Â£20 charge which covered all drinks for the evening and a table which we nursed for two hours, we made like post âdrink-meâ Alice and squeezed our way down the stairs and found ourselves in a basement room of miniature proportions. The novelty of their license means you must arrive with unopened bottles so sadly no raiding of your alcohol cupboardâs circa Christmas-time obscure liqueurs, unless like yours truly, you hoard the miniatures in wait for an occasion that can justify opening such cute little bottles. Well, isnât this convenient! We chose to sit right next to mr mixer man and his trolley for maximum exposure. My accomplice was in charge of the Hendricks so I had to engage some extra creativity and decided to go for the hotel mini bar raid approach you see above.Across from our table, we were delighted to see a genuine ipad gramophone circa 2014 and a wall covered in what we could only presume were genuine dusty books from the olden days .. or a 3D wall paper illusion .. probably the latter. The rest of the room was a stripped back brick affair with glasses hanging from racks above our heads (space conservation at its finest) although we were firmly glued to our seats for the two hours so there was little danger of contact with the overhanging glassware. Daters and debaucherers would have a field day in this little underground drinking den with dimmed lights and candles on each table creating the perfect atmosphere...although not the perfect lighting for the humble iphone as is well demonstrated by the general state of my photos!It took a little bit of prompting to find out exactly what the drinks don had created for us since each cocktail was placed in front of us without any explanation but testing our taste buds proved entertaining in itself. Whoever wrote 'I saw & I drank' on the wall below must have had a similar experience. Our creations ranged from a champagne and elderflower number, a chocolate and ginger rum based deal, a gin and raspberry tipple and I think there was another but my memory has (unsurprisingly) failed me.My evening was fabulous, I'm all about a bar with a twist and BYOC really cuts it. Thanks must go to Matt at The List who gave some great tip offs and I can't wait to return although I can completely understand why BYOC has received such mixed reviews. a) Neither myself nor my accomplice were huge fans of the two hour time-slot and although the next cohort were still to arrive, we were pretty much turfed out when our time was up. b) The trolley man/ bar brother/ mix master had everything under control, our glasses were never empty for long and all the drinks were inventive and delicious. One could however have mistaken his mono-syllabicness for rudeness .. not being sensitive souls, we decided he was just protecting the tricks of his trade but it was a shame he wasn't a little more forthcoming.My criticisms aside, I'm going to be keeping an eye on their twitter feed since their tables are booked up weeks in advance and they post updates about any table cancellations. One for the spontaneous amongst us!
Smokey MeatIt's just down the road. No it can't be, I don't believe you. Really? Nope, not having it. It's in Timeout? What? Ok fine, it must exist. Suppose I'll just have to go.While I don't have an abnormal amount of conversations with myself, this was a classic and it all centred around the opening of the brand spanking new One Sixty American smokehouse and bar in West Hampstead from the same folk that brought you Fitzrovia's Pied A Terre. Finally, somewhere delicious I can walk to! I shall take this moment to stress that even if it were not within walking distance, it is definitely worth a trip. Sticky ribs and wings for all!Here we have a traditional table napkin but we were more delighted by the entire roll of paper towels on every table. This was clearly a clue, time to get messy!Happy to have all the starters on the menu, we decided we might be jumping the gun a bit so decided on two out of the five and to come back again for the rest. Because it's always entertaining to choose your drinks based entirely on whether or not they have a silly name, that is exactly what we did when deciding upon the Goose Island Honker's.First to arrive were the rib tips, dripping in juicy, sticky sauce and mouthwatering to look at and consume. They didn't last long.The story was much the same for the chicken wings which disappeared at a similar speed to the ribs. I'm a strong believer that it is pretty impossible not to like wings, especially when they are this good.After inhaling our sticky starters and destroying a good half of the roll of kitchen towel, it was time for mains. I felt (not unusually) on the adventurous side and decided to try ox cheek for the first time. Although the menu describes it as just like beef ribs but better, I'm not sure I would completely agree. This being my first taste of ox cheek, my authority is limited and I think ribs are more flavoursome. It was incredibly tender however and for all the ox cheek lovers out there, probably an excellent choice but I'll let you be the judge. Next time I think I'll go with my first intention and get all the starters!According to my dinner companion the pulled pork burger was also delicious.Cloud fluffy chips accompanied our mains and were chunky and light. I did feel a little green deprived however and not being a huge slaw fan, would have liked to see some vegetables on the menu. With a meaty food coma fast approaching, there was sadly no space (this is becoming a horrible habit) for dessert. I guess I'll just have to return!
An Indian Street FeastAfter my standard trek around Soho getting lost at least a hundred times before ending up in the place I started, Imli Street lay before me and the table which I had booked only an hour before was ready and waiting. (I'm becoming less inclined to rock up unannounced with the danger of being turned away tail between my legs, so anywhere that takes bookings will be getting my call).Imli Street specialises in Indian street cuisines, boasting a menu dripping with diversity. It's sister venue, Tamarind of Mayfair was the first Indian restaurant in the UK to achieve a Michelin star so my hopes were high.Across from us sat a table, glowing in the corner awaiting its hungry mouths. As exposed brickwork goes, this one really cuts the mustard and the carefully positioned menus are a nice touch for when you realise that more food is necessary.The menu was bursting with flavours from all over India and a helping hand from our rather dishy waiter (oh the pun) was welcomed.Personalised water bottles arrived at the table along with the shining red beakers. This birds eye view of the mouthwateringly delectable food includes crispy chicken wings, saag paneer, railway lamb curry, pilau rice, onion bhaji pieces and some bread in a bucket. For two, this was the perfect amount (unless you're factoring in dessert space, in which case it was more than enough)!My interior design attention was caught by the hanging bulbs amidst the shining bar. Big fan!Having completely stuffed ourselves and anticipating having to roll each other out, we gazed in sadness at the delicious dessert menu. There was no way we would be able to even attempt it on this sitting but it did make us smile when we decided a return visit purely for dessert and only dessert was necessary.
Little House on Charlotte StreetOllie Dabbous' latest venture has everyone clucking with excitement and reading 5* reviews at every turn sent Barnyard directly to the top of my to-do list. With a no bookings policy, kiss goodbye to the notorious month-long waiting list you're likely to experience down the road at Dabbous although I can guarantee it won't be long before the queues are stretching out of Barnyard's door.Barnyard is everything you want out of a Sunday lunch destination (or any other lunch, or dinner for that matter but I'm biased about Sunday lunch on this occasion). We arrived in front of the aesthetically lovely white picket-fenced exterior and grinned at the lack of queue - this isn't going to be a secret for long!Inside we were greeted by checked shirts and a delightful tweed flatcap amongst trees, more fence and neatly lined jugs. So neat. This boded well since I have a (not strange) affection for things that line up neatly; a backlash from the chaos of my childhood bedroom perhaps. Or not. Anyway, there was nothing not to like about this cute interior that we had just wondered into.The walls were covered in corrugated iron and the lamps hanging from the ceiling cast a warm glow around the room creating that warm fuzzy feeling that can't help but calm you down and make you smile.Taking our seats, it was time to peruse the menu. 10 minutes later we were still perusing. Everything just looked so damn delicious and it is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady in possession of a good menu must be in want of, well, all of it!After our decision making had reached ridiculous lengths, we finally ordered and sat on the edge of our seats in anticipation. Diners around us were being brought steaming bowls of all manner of comforting dishes and food envy was rife. The main dishes were simply lovely. Exactly as explained on the menu and accompanied by fantastic sides. First up, tender beef short rib with a light, creamy dill sauce..oh and a gherkin (though I must confess, I chose to gerk-out)!My partner in crime went for the suckling pig and crackling. Such great crackling!The cauliflower cheese was a showstopper with an added sprinkle of nostalgia.Lard on toast was, well, lard on toast but it was as good as lard on toast should be! Lets just say lard on toast again for luck. Lard on toast. Ok, I'm done.Lastly, the chargrilled broccoli to complete the rainbow or at least infuse it with a little bit of green. What we have here is the sort of meal I could happily eat all the time and the value for money was another reason to add that extra skip to my step. This new little house is definitely a reason to leave the confines of your sofa and I urge you all to hurry on down before it becomes the talk of the town. And now let us turn ever so slightly to the toilets. As is often stated, one can tell a lot about a place by looking at its 'facilities', so lookee here!Slip out of your barrel chair ... ... skip past the fence and down the stairs ...... reach the wood and iron corridor ...... and enter to find the exact same care and attention has been given to the bathroom as to the rest of the interior. A traditional basin with lavender in the corner and rustic tiling completes the pretty picture.Back at the table we sipped on vanilla and popcorn milkshakes .. literally popcorn in a bottle. I'll have that all the time please. Full to the brim and ready to be launched into the awaiting food coma, the dessert menu will have to wait for the Little Brown Book's return.Barnyard has been catapulted to somewhere circling the top of my favourites list and I am eager to drag everyone and their (metaphorical) dog to have a taste so I really don't know what you could possibly be waiting for!
A Jammin' BarTake a splash of rum, an explosion of colour and a little space between two buildings and here you have Dub Jam. Almost impossibly nestled in Covent Garden lies the latest Jamaican reggae jerk bar. Upon entry, feel your cares drift away and the sounds of London become a distant memory. Youâre in the Caribbean now so pull up a seat (if you can find one) and bob along to Marley.With only 17 covers and quickly becoming the talk of the town, Iâd hurry on over before everyone and their sister finds out about it.We timed our arrival well. At somewhere very close to 6.30 (impeccable time keeping is something one should always strive to achieve), we threw open the door and hopped in. Not quite full to the brim, we managed to nab the last two seats while we awaited the rest of our party.With tins of rum punch in hand, we took in our surroundings with delight. Buoys hanging from the ceiling lit up the multicoloured graffiti scrawled walls and a couple of metres away jerky aromas wafted from the tiny kitchen behind the bar.We were treated to a bit of card trickery by the masterful magician/ waiter/ owner/ manager/ tie-die shirt-wearing dude (delete as appropriate) before we leapt onto the table opposite as soon as its previous occupants had vacated the area. Hawk eyes have nothing on us!Two became four and we tucked into sweet potato fries, chicken and halloumi skewers and sipped on the fruity rum punch. More fruit than rum, this batch probably wasnât going to cause us to sway too much and eliminated the ever-upsetting danger of headache filled work the following day. Definitely not a bad thing on a school night.Dub Jam is perfectly chilled out and excellent for when an escape from the crazy that is London is required, so jam on over and taste the vibe for yourself. I'll certainly be back!