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29 July 2014

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Blog Reviews from Saying it straight

(menu)

As sure as eggs is eggs. Food and law. Not necessarily in that order.


  1. Published : Sunday, 20th July 2014

    Polpo Notting Hill | Polpo Notting Hill. Yummy, mummy.

    I haven’t been to the original Soho Polpo. Like a foodie version of too posh to push, I’m just too old to stand in line. Not to mention impatient. And even though I am generally to be found right up there on my high horse about the no booking thing, I thought that it might not be entirely rammed in Notting Hill, given its size. This is number four in the chain that is Polpo, the others being in Soho (the mothership) Smithfield and Covent Garden. The brainchild of that most astute of restaurateurs, Russell Norman, he not only captures the zeitgeist, he often creates it...

  2. Published : Wednesday, 2nd July 2014

    Marianne | Marianne. Middling.

    When I was a baby lawyer, I entertained a fantasy that I would do law for about ten years, then open up a little neighbourhood restaurant. That was before I realised how much physical work, not to mention financial risk would be involved and I don’t do risk. Less a liberation from the law and more a life sentence to a stove. But if I had opened a restaurant, it is highly likely that it would have been something like this. Small, but perfectly formed, Marianne is a beautiful little space. It’s the smallest fine dining restaurant in London, said the waiter. Like you’re in somebody’s very smart dining room and there is something about that intimacy which makes me feel slightly uneasy. I like a bit of distance...

  3. Published : Friday, 20th June 2014

    Hind’s Head | The Hind’s Head. Heston does homespun.

    I was still on holiday, albeit not actually still abroad. There were cupboards to organise, so obviously my thoughts turned to food. And the sun was shining. A country pub, I was thinking, by the river perhaps. And when I say pub I was thinking beer-serving establishment only in the loosest possible sense. A sort of Hand and Flowers-style pub perhaps. I never bother even trying to get in there anymore. It’s a bit talk to the Hand at the moment and I believe that they are taking bookings for October. I can’t wait that long. Not a million miles away from The Hand and a few minutes away from The Fat Duck (no, I haven’t)the The Hinds Head is said to be owned by Heston himself. Having done a little digging around last year at Companies House for a piece on restaurant ownership, it seemed at the time that the “Heston” restaurants were owned by a company called SL6, which appeared to be owned by something known as the Lowenthal Corporation. Heston’s name doesn’t actually appear anywhere. Make of that what you will...

  4. Published : Saturday, 17th May 2014

    34 | 34. It’s a Caring Formula.

    Ask for a round table. You might otherwise have to move three times, like I did on the visit before this one. They favour the run of tables close together style of dining, so that you get to know your neighbour, whether or not you want to. A round table will take you away from all that. A round table like the one shared by B and I, with a lamp in the middle and a cord attached, draped, somewhat bizarrely, across the table. If I’m not wrong (and I often am, ask anyone who knows me) this is the first restaurant in the Caring Group that he has opened on his own. The others in the Caring stable, which includes J Sheekey, Scott’s, The Ivy and Le Caprice, he bought fully formed from Rex Associates, otherwise known as Corbin and King, whose current portfolio includes The Wolseley, Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel. Maybe Mr Caring needed their help to sort out an original name. This is at 34 Grosvenor Square. They must have thought for ages before coming up with that one...

  5. The first thing you’ll notice is the suit. It must have been quite a challenge to find an outfit that could hold its own in this glamorous, cavernous room but the maître d’has managed it, with aplomb. The self-styled HDR is the main restaurant of the new Rosewood Hotel, in that no-man’s land area of High Holborn known as mid-town. Decked out with plush red leather banquettes and well-spaced tables, this is an impressive room. There are a few high tables and stools which you could use for drinks and snacks, but they were all empty for the duration of our meal. As was much of the restaurant. Cocktails are a bargain for central London and it may be worth trying this for those alone. You could quite happily sit for a couple of hours after work, with a plate of charcuterie and a bottle of wine...

  6. Greeted by a uniformed doorman, it’s service all the way. Once you have gone through the garden of Eden, a pleasant, smiley gentleman opens the door into the restaurant; an impossibly glamorous girl takes your coat and then you go to the greeting lectern, and another immaculate member of staff takes you to the table. So far, I’ve had to smile and say hello to four people before I managed to sit at my table. The staff/customer ratio is extremely high. On our way to our table, we walk past a happening bar, full of glamorous young women and their somewhat older male companions, who have been told that this is the place. For once, I think they are right...

  7. I’d really not fancied going to Ametsa. It wasn’t only the name that put me off. The negative reviews didn’t help. Ametsa with Arzak Instruction? What does that even mean? I’d heard of Arzak, the restaurant in San Sebastian. It’s on my bucket list. A look at the Arzak website shows Arzak has a separate arm, called Arzak Instruction, which offers consultancy services to food operators. So this is the reason for the unusual name. It’s very literal. And a bit of a mouthful. The restaurant is in the Halkin Hotel, yet another one of those London places that I can’t believe I haven’t been to before...

  8. Published : Tuesday, 25th February 2014

    Roka Mayfair | ROKA rocks NoMa

    As you walk in, conventional tables are dotted around a huge central area, which is surrounded by a large and beautiful carved piece of wood, where you can sit, eat and watch the chefs in the centre, preparing the food. It would be quite easy to eat on your own here, which I like. And the speciality here is the robatayaki cuisine, which is translated as “fireside cooking”. You and I would describe it as barbecued food. It reminded me of Nobu, not a restaurant I love, with a bit of the silly shouty thing going on between the chefs and it is Japanese food aimed at people who don’t really want the austere sort of experience you might get at the more traditional Japanese restaurants. There’s plenty here for people who think they don’t like Japanese food or who would be worried about eating raw fish...

  9. Published : Saturday, 25th January 2014

    Café Murano | Cafe Murano. Raise a glass.

    This is an Angela Hartnett venture, back to her old stamping ground. Literally. She worked here, alongside Marcus Wareing, when it was Petrus of blessed memory. Bang on trend with its informal dining and the possibility, but not the necessity, of sharing plates, this is a well-priced and very welcome addition to the area. And it’s packed. According to our very friendly waitress, they were expecting 150 covers that evening, the busiest ever. And she was looking forward it. The room is long, narrow and simply furnished with stylish lighting. there’s a long bar, where I’d be quite happy to dine alone, tables set along the wall and a wider restaurant area at the back. I like the window tables at the front...

  10. Published : Thursday, 9th January 2014

    The House of Ho | The House of Ho. Ho ho, so so .

    House of Ho. In Soho. Ho ho ho. Even the taxi driver laughed. This is the brainchild of Bobby Chinn, restaurateur, who already has two restaurants in Vietnam. According to his website, Bobby’s restaurant mixes French technique, Californian sensibility, a pinch of Middle Eastern spices and a touch of South East Asia’s flavours. It says that The House of Ho will be “fun, informal, sexy and moderately priced, showcasing a resolutely Vietnamese menu and some dishes with a “Bobby” twist.”...

  11. Published : Thursday, 2nd January 2014

    Kai | Kai Mayfair. Cry, wallet.

    It’s got lots of awards, has Kai. Not only a Michelin star, but, according to its website, it was the highest ranked Chinese restaurant in the Sunday Times Food List 2012, Best Chinese restaurant in London in the Hardens Guide, Best Chinese restaurant in something called “Zagat survey” though it doesn’t say when, or what that survey was, UK Best Dishes Award Finalist in Restaurant Magazine, again no mention as to when and finally, Best Kitchen Finalist in the Tatler Restaurant guide. What about Best Chinese restaurant on South Audley Street? Or Most Creative Use of Red Apples in a Restaurant Setting? Enough already...

  12. Published : Thursday, 5th December 2013

    Flesh and Buns | Flesh and Buns.

    Flesh and Buns. It wouldn’t be my first choice for a restaurant name. Or even my last. Had I not known it was the sister restaurant to the very lovely Bone Daddies, the Soho noodle bar, I wouldn’t have given it a second look. But having had one of the very best bowls of noodles that I have ever had in my whole life ever ever, (honestly, you must try it, even though you might feel ridiculous amongst all those youthful beards), I was prepared to overlook the irritating name. Almost. It alienates me, frankly and I feel stupid saying it to people...

  13. Published : Sunday, 10th November 2013

    Gymkhana | Gymkhana. For the Maharajas of Mayfair.

    Gymkhana. I can’t help but think of those Thelwell cartoons. Little fat girls on even fatter ponies. Events that happen in the Home Counties. Rosettes. That sort of thing. I don’t automatically think sophisticated curry-house in Mayfair. My mistake. “Gymkhana” is, I now know, an Anglo-Indian expression, derived from the Persian and Urdu word “Jamat-khana”. Most Indian gymkhanas (places for riding horses) have a “Gymkhana Club” associated with them, a term coined during British Raj, for a gentlemen’s club.’ These clubs appear to have been rather exclusively British, at least until Independence...

  14. Published : Thursday, 31st October 2013

    Merchant's Tavern | A Tale of Two Taverns.

    Apparently, a tavern is somewhere that serves wine and an inn is somewhere that serves beer and ale. According to Wikipedia, in the UK, the word “tavern” is no longer in popular use”. I’m not sure that the owners of the relatively new Newman Street, Berners and Merchants Taverns would agree. And other than the fact that it serves wine, I’m not sure that the word “tavern” gives quite the right impression of what Berners Tavern is all about. And for me, it’s all about the room. Pretty jaw-dropping, somewhat spectacular, this is a glamorous, exciting and dramatic dining space. An hotel dining room, yes, but not the drab, dull exercise in neutrality that normally greets you. A delicate and ornate carved ceiling, an eight-storey bar, drop dead gorgeous chandeliers and funky pictures covering all the walls make this a space which makes an immediate impact. If only the food could match it...

  15. Published : Monday, 28th October 2013

    Little Social | Little Social – I can be, sometimes.

    This sits bang opposite Pollen Street Social, the mothership, but it’s really quite other. Aiming to recreate the feel of an old Parisian bistro, this is intimate and cosy – very different to the glitz, light and noise across the road. As you walk in, a long and narrow room, with a number of ox-blood leather banquettes on the right hand side of the bar. The clients were already ensconced and I slid in. I knew within about three seconds that I could, nay would, slide off the edge. Not due to the size of my backside, though that doesn’t help, but because it was one of those very slippery leather seats which, combined with slippery clothes and alcohol, meant it wasn’t going to end well...

  16. Sometimes I am the client. It happens quite rarely in my life as a private practice lawyer. Sometimes I even get taken out to eat by other lawyers. And as I am obviously perceived to be a food fascist, I’m often asked to choose the venue. And at one level, the control-freak one, I’m clearly ecstatic to be in control of the destination decision, but then I have to consider what the other person might actually like. And the cost. Oh. A normal person would go somewhere tried and tested, somewhere safe and sensible. A normal person. So I choose to go to somewhere that I’ve never been before, haven’t really heard much about and where they specialise in a style of wine I don’t really like. And even worse, it’s on St Martin’s Lane – home of revolting chains, theatres and too many tourists. Perfect...

  17. Published : Wednesday, 16th October 2013

    Hutong at The Shard | Hutong at the Shard. Lord, love a duck.

    I’d really no business to be going to the Shard for dinner. I’d no business to be going anywhere other than one of those places where they make you fast for a week. It had been a weekend of sheer piggery in Paris, where, on the Friday night, we unexpectedly ended up at Guy Savoy. We thought we’d cancelled the reservation – they thought otherwise. So to avoid any argument and in that very British way, we forced ourselves. Hard on the heels of that, Le Cinq, again entirely uneccessary and grotesquely over the top. The sort of dining room that makes me want to misbehave, because everyone is being ever-so-polite and speaking in hushed tones. The sort of place where they give you a stool, just for your handbag...

  18. Published : Saturday, 5th October 2013

    Smokehouse | Not smokin’ at Smokehouse.

    I had heard lots of great things about this, before I actually found out where it was. And when I did, I was a little surprised. I had imagined that it was going to be in the more gritty, happening part of Islington. I used to know its predecessor very well. It was at the end of a road I used to live on. But I didn’t go there very often, because it was noisy and it didn’t really seem to be aimed at people of my age. That hasn’t changed. But that’s fine. I will endure generational dislocation for food. A frisson of irritation on being called to confirm the booking and told that we could only have the table for a limited period. They hadn’t mentioned that previously...

  19. Published : Thursday, 26th September 2013

    Texture | Texture too.

    The set menu at £21.90 for two courses and £26 for three has to be one of the best I’ve tried in recent memory. You know what I’m like about set menus – I steer clear. Ridiculous really, but there’s something about going for the cheap option that makes me feel cheap, like I’m missing out on the real deal. And with clients, you can’t always be sure that they will go for it – sometimes you can’t steer them onto the cheap seats. I was interested to see how this would compare with the whole à la carte performance. I recalled the wonderful bowlful of crackers/crispbreads and prayed hoped that we would be getting them with the lunch And lo, and behold. Parmesan, fish skin, rye, potato. A large bowlful. Which I hoovered into my face. And then bread. Warm, lovely sourdough with good butter. Similarly dispatched. And unexpectedly, a little pre–starter. Something with shaved ice on the top but which was described as different ways with cauliflower. First bite, the ice a little off-putting but actually underneath lay some interesting nutty cauliflower flavours...

  20. Published : Thursday, 26th September 2013

    Clockjack Oven | Clockjack Oven. *Disappointed face.*

    You first notice the noise. Lots of it. Not from the music but from the shrieking of large groups of people made worse by the hard surfaces of the restaurant. An impression of unorchestrated chaos as you walk in. It looks like a fast food joint. Unfortunately it isn’t. Given that the main event here is the rotisserie chicken it would have been foolish to have ordered anything else, so we didn’t. We ordered sides of the house salad and chips. You get a choice of sauces and we ordered barbecue. Plus point: chilled tapwater brought to the table, without having to ask for it...

  21. Published : Sunday, 22nd September 2013

    Moro | To Moro to Moro I love you to Moro

    For anyone who has been living on another food planet, this is the brainchild of Sam and Sam Clark. A thousand years ago they worked for the River Café and you can see the same aesthetic here – top quality ingredients, not messed about with too much. As they say on their website, they set out to discover the abundant flavours of the southern Mediterranean and travelled through Spain, Morocco and the Sahara for three months. That this has been going strong since 1997 and hasn’t changed particularly since then speaks volumes. This is a confident restaurant. It knows its audience and it does its job spectacularly well. I’ve never been disappointed...

  22. Published : Monday, 16th September 2013

    The Square | The Square. It is, a bit.

    You know that there is something wrong with your life when you can’t get excited about going to a restaurant with 2 Michelin stars. Or at least there is something wrong with my life. But you know that by now. And the truth is that every time I decide to go to The Square, I keep thinking that this will be the time when I get it, this will be the time when it speaks to me and this will with the time when I understand why people get so excited about it...

  23. The vibe is modern and expensive. It is just had a refurb, according to the maitre d’, but I wasn’t able to tell what had changed. My memory doesn’t go back two years. These days it doesn’t go back 2 minutes, frankly and we were lucky that I remembered it at all. Like the anniversary. Delivered in a wooden box that looked like a book were three very lovely amuse-bouche...

  24. Published : Friday, 30th August 2013

    Medlar | Medlar. Not an open-ers in sight.

    It’s been hovering around on my list for some considerable time, mostly due to the fact that it’s at the open-arse end of the King’s Road, in Chelsea. Near the Harbour. Too far to take a cheap cab and no decent buses home. Obviously I’m not going to drive there. Not with that wine list. But now I’ve been, I realise that unlike other places, which have been raved about by others and found wanting, this place justifies the hype. I will be coming back often...

  25. Tommi’s is the brainchild of Icelandic entrepreneur Tómas Tomasson. I have no idea who he is. I’m sure he’s a legend in Reykjavik. There were quite a lot of people in there talking very loudly in a language I couldn’t identify. Probably Icelandic then, at a guess. I could hear myself speak. But it was 5.30 and they hadn’t turned the music up in deference to the oldies. And (other than C ) there was, indeed another person of age. The Lord be thanked. And they had every condiment known to man. I was impressed...

  26. Published : Friday, 23rd August 2013

    Hedone | Head only at Hedone.

    I deliberately didn’t read anything about this before I went. I knew that it had been blogged to death. I knew that people really liked it. I knew that it had been given a Michelin star and that the owner was an ex-lawyer foodblogger. It spoke to me. So I expected that I was going to get food which was interesting, well-cooked and a cut above the ordinary. Interesting it certainly was. I very much liked the décor with its upcycled furniture and quirky/casual Scandi-eclectic vibe. There were strange food-related murals on the ceiling but they were original and showed a lack of conformity which I find refreshing. This is a good, warm place with a nice feel as you walk through the door. And lovely, friendly service from the waiting staff...

  27. I am predisposed to love Theo Randall because of his chocolate cake recipe. I noticed that it was on the menu. Perversely, I didn’t order it. It was a Friday night and we wanted to avoid rush-hour traffic...

  28. Brasserie Zédel. I’d formed an opinion about it before I went. I’d assumed I wouldn’t like it. Too big, too noisy, too everything. Listen carefully for I will say this only once: I was wrong. You can imagine my initial reaction, when an email from a Jeremy King appeared in my inbox...

  29. Published : Tuesday, 23rd July 2013

    Shake Shack | Shake Shack. It didn’t change my life.

    London readers: unless you have been on another planet, you’ll have heard of this burger joint in Covent Garden. Imported from New York, the hype surrounding it has been something to behold. I had to try it. It’s the latest in the new wave burger joints. I got there at about 9.15 and was told that the queue might be half an hour. Half an hour? At that time? Normally I’d have walked off before the words even left the mouth, but I was committed, having walked 45 minutes to get there, in a sorry attempt to counteract the damage I knew I was going to inflict...

  30. Published : Saturday, 20th July 2013

    Hibiscus | Hibiscus. Thank God I liked it.

    As you walk in (and you could so easily miss it, given its unassuming frontage on Maddox Street) a comfortable sofa and a reception desk that could double as a headboard. I’m starting to think that I need to change that whole velvet-buttoned look. Everything in cool blues and creams, comfortable upholstery. Everyone and everything is quiet when we get there, at pensioner-friendly 6.30. It’s great though, because I could talk to the staff. I am that woman. I have turned into my mother. Kill me now. It’s quite Michelin formal, service wise. Some fabulous cashews. Tasting like salt and vinegar crisps. That’s because they were made with sea salt and malt vinegar. One to try at home...

  31. Published : Friday, 19th July 2013

    Nopi | NOPI. Ottolenghi for grown-ups.

    I am predisposed to like NOPI. Partly because it’s on the site of the Sugar Club, of blessed memory and partly because I have a soft spot for all things Ottolenghi. And for all you young things out there, Sugar Club was, for me the food sensation of the mid 1990′s. It’s a combination of Middle-eastern and Asian, with modern, voguish ingredients, a decent wine list and strong flavours. This is the grown-up side of the café that is Ottolenghi...

  32. Published : Monday, 1st July 2013

    Wild Honey | Wild Honey. The Bee’s Knees.

    On a fairly nondescript part of St. George Street, in Mayfair, C tells me that this used to be a barber’s shop. It’s a long, fairly narrow room, with wooden panelling, good, austere lighting and interesting modern art on the walls. Comfortable without being fussy, it’s an elegant and stylish restaurant. I felt at home as soon as I walked through the door. A very decent Kir kicked off the proceedings...

  33. I was bigging it up for C, as you do. It’s good, I said, gutsy Brasserie-style food. Smart, an elegant room, a bit hotel-y, but a restaurant for grown-ups. Highly competent, I said, you’ll like it. Great chef, you know, that Eric Chavot. He’s a star...

  34. Published : Thursday, 6th June 2013

    Newman Street Tavern | Newman Street Tavern

    There’s good service and then there is mind-reading. Maybe it was my expression, or maybe they’re just very good at looking after you, but within five minutes of sitting down at the table, one of the waitresses came up and asked whether the music was a little bit too much. It was. I love her. I’d read about this in the FT and thought that it looked extremely me. Slap bang in the middle of Fitzrovia...

  35. Published : Monday, 27th May 2013

    Scott's | Scott’s, Mayfair.

    When I think of Scotts, I immediately think of two people. One is Nigella, who, if the Daily Fail sidebar of shame is to be believed, practically lives here with her husband, “multimillionaire advertising tycoon” Charles Saatchi. The other is Richard Caring, who also happens to own, on the same road, the Mount Street Deli and the private members’ club, George. I’ve been to both. Obviously...

  36. Published : Wednesday, 15th May 2013

    Bird of Smithfield | Bird Of Smithfield

    The restaurant is in Smithfield, in a former pub. You wouldn’t know that though. In the basement, the Birdcage, a nightclub-style bar; on the ground floor a casual café space where you can order small plates of food or just a coffee; on the first floor, the main restaurant; on the second a private, sophisticated, dining room with a separate seating area and on the top, an open roof garden. Something for everyone...

  37. Published : Friday, 15th March 2013

    Bone Daddies | Bone Daddies.

    I asked the very lovely happy smiley chappie what I should have from the menu. Obviously I had heard of the Tonkotsu ramen, with spring onion, chasu pork and the 20-hour pork bone broth, but happy smiley chappie tells me to ignore the fact that this is their bestseller and instead to order the Tantanmen. This is described as noodles with sesame, chilli, pork mince, bok choy and chicken bone broth...

  38. Published : Friday, 15th March 2013

    Kitchen W8 | Kitchen W8

    Have the risotto, I insisted. Jerusalem Artichoke with Vacherin Mont D’or and Winter Truffle. Having had it the last time I came, I thought it was a magnificent dish. That is because it contains a number of my favourite things, all in one place...

  39. Published : Tuesday, 12th March 2013

    Pitt Cue Co | Pitt Cue Co

    You’d probably walk past it if you didn’t know. Funny lace net grandma curtains, and an upstairs bar, with seven or eight seats at the window, it looks like it was an old and tiny Soho pub. I felt it was absolutely necessary to have the ribs, to see what all the fuss was about. It comes with coleslaw and pickle and some decent bread. It also comes with a side and I chose the green chilli coleslaw...

  40. Published : Tuesday, 12th March 2013

    Vinoteca Farringdon | Vinoteca.

    I had this meal on Tuesday, 19th of February. I know that because I took the menu and put it in my bag. The branch that I went to is the one on Seymour Place which has such things of wondrousnous as Les Senteurs and the competent Donostia...

  41. Published : Monday, 11th March 2013

    Fino | A fine time at Fino

    And now, I’m going to do a version of the conveyor belt on the Generation Game. Remember that? You had to look at a whole list of items as they whooshed past you and then remember as many as you could so that you could take them home. My version is to try and remember as many of the dishes that I had at Fino this week, without resorting to looking at my photographs. What fun...

  42. Published : Sunday, 3rd March 2013

    Lima | Lima.

    Very fashionable, Peruvian food. Almost a trend. Not only this, but Ceviche, and Tierra Peru, in Islington. And whilst at Ceviche, last week, Twitter, in that know-it-all way that it has, told me that I was in the wrong place. Go to Lima, it said, it’s much better. And having now done just that, I can tell you, helpfully that Twitter is right, but it is also wrong. They are both good and whilst there is indeed ceviche and tiger’s milk in the centre of the Ceviche/Lima Venn diagram, they are not, in my view, comparable. One is delicate fine-ish dining and the other is street food/relaxed...

  43. Published : Friday, 22nd February 2013

    Ceviche | Ceviche. Lots of new words.

    So we ordered Yucas, which is fried cassava, with a Huancaina sauce (pronounced wan-kay-eena, naturally) and which is a cheese onion and chili combination. The cassava could have passed very easily for roasted parsnip and £3 this was not going to break the bank altough it would be a good alcohol-sponge. I very much liked the Cancha, which was just simply crunchy roasted Peruvian corn. And then what is billed as ”beetroot salad,, coriander smooth cool Peruvian potato cake”. I’m surprised at this description, as I look at it now, because it tasted very much like avocado, rather than potato...

  44. Published : Saturday, 2nd February 2013

    The Nut Tree | Nut Tree Inn, Murcott.

    I have tried to get in here at least half a dozen times. It’s always at the last minute though and I’ve never been successful. Until last week, when they managed to squeeze us in for an early lunch. I had been expecting something good from the reviews and the local chatter, not to mention the Michelin star (not a guarantee of quality, as we all know) and I went with a completely open mind because I haven’t actually spoken to anyone who had been there...

  45. Published : Friday, 1st February 2013

    Yauatcha | Yauatcha.

    The restaurant is set out on two floors. The top floor, where we sat, is a very modern minimalist space, with clean lines and good lighting and tables not too close to each other. The only problem with the tables however is that they are just too small. And not only the tables. The chairs are not proper size – they seemed halfway between grown-up chairs and something you might find in a traditional Japanese restaurant, but not quite. I’m practically a midget and found the chairs uncomfortable and they would not be particularly kind to a larger posterior – not that I have one of course. I made C choose steered C towards the dim sum set menu. Despite my innate control-freakery I sometimes allow myself to just have the set menu without insisting on a Harry met Sally type of variation, rare though it is, There were enough things like that I liked and recognised and it didn’t seem like bad value for the amount of food. So much for my “little amounts of food” fantasy...

  46. Published : Friday, 11th January 2013

    Gail's Kitchen | Gail’s Kitchen.

    If you’ve been to a Gail’s Bakery, then you’ll have some idea of the feel of the place. Gail’s Kitchen is their new restaurant. It will be no surprise to you that bread is a key element in their offering and given my deep and enduring love of carbohydrate, this makes me very happy. And on top of the excellent bread selection, that comes as you sit down, you can have some more bread-y things as you go along. The waitress politely suggested that Renaissance Man and I had chosen too much food. She doesn’t know me. I suspect that we could have done justice to our original selection, but no-one, least not me, wants to look greedy – at least not at the beginning and so we stuck with the recommended number of dishes – almost. Renaissance Man did, I am pleased to say, sneak one in at the final moment, for which I was most grateful. I think you could easily demolish 2-3 dishes each. If not more. I know I could...

  47. Published : Friday, 11th January 2013

    La Porte des Indes | La Porte des Indes.

    The comparatively understated exterior gives you no indication as to what lies within and you walk through a small entrance straight into a two-storey, domed, palm-strewn extravaganza. I wasn’t expecting to find this oversized conservatory behind Marble Arch and it was a surprise. Apparently, it was converted from an old Edwardian ballroom. According to its website, it boasts lots of antique artefacts and a 40ft waterfall. Perhaps I was too engrossed in conversation (it has been known), but I didn’t actually notice the waterfall. No matter, there was plenty to occupy me on the menu...

  48. Published : Sunday, 30th December 2012

    The Ledbury | The Ledbury. Love, actually.

    I like a chef who looks after his customers. To the extent of coming out of the kitchen with a rolling-pin during a riot, even. And the chef in charge here, Brett Graham, is a star. What is it about Aussie chefs? Caravan, Granger & Co and now this. And I wasn’t even trying. Tip: if you want to get a reservation, go and see them. I’d really given up all hope of getting a table before 2013, having tried a few times without success. And you wouldn’t ever drop in on the off-chance. It’s said that they turned away Brangelina. How much do we love that? So I was passing and thought I’d ask. And they had told us that there would only be a tasting menu available, because it was those dead days between Christmas and new year. And the fact that we could actually get in made us worry that they might not be at their best. We’d had a bit of a sub-standard experience a year ago at another normally reliable place and we were a bit wary...

  49. Published : Thursday, 27th December 2012

    Caravan King's Cross | Caravan King’s Cross.

    We had a little taxi-drama – he couldn’t find it and we went down a number of dead ends, before working out that one has to walk across the bridge. But the bridge is impressive, especially at night, leading to a water feature which is as wonderful as it is unexpected. I’m glad that there are security guards, though, because on my own, at night, I’m would not feel entirely safe. Notwithstanding the glamification, it is still the back end of Kings Cross. And it’s dark. IMG_2387 The restaurant is contained in the same warehouse building as St Martin’s School of Art. There is a small sign, resting on the wall. I never thought I would say it, but you can take minimalism too far. And once you do actually make it inside, the space is impressive. Industrial chic, with very high ceilings, it has the feel of something you might find in New York. And there is a coffee roastery at the back which I would like to explore...

  50. Published : Tuesday, 25th December 2012

    Granger & Co | Granger & Co

    I’ve got a Bill Granger book. Bill’s Basics. He’s smiling on the front of it. He doesn’t look English. He’s too happy. I liked the idea of his fabled Aussie breakfasts and the pictures are good. I haven’t quite got round to using it.* And I am not covering the breakfast offering, which looks great and needs a whole blog of its own. I have tried to get in quite a few times, but every time I wanted to go, it was at what I would call “normal” eating times and with the no-bookings policy, there is always a long queue. So unless you’re local, or you don’t mind standing around on the pavement in the wrong bit of Notting Hill, don’t even think about coming at peak times...

  51. Do you know, I haven’t been to the Fat Duck in Bray. I know. Ridiculous isn’t it? Except that I don’t really fancy all that food-as-entertainment chemistry lesson cleverness. And not to mention that I haven’t been able to get a reservation yet. And I had trouble getting in here as well. It was only due to the generosity of a kindly banker chap (yes, they really do exist) that I managed to get a table, albeit under the name of a man I don’t know, which confused my guest no end when he arrived early. I have never been known as Adam. Not even to my closest friends...

  52. Published : Thursday, 22nd November 2012

    The River Café | River Café. Mostly marvellous.

    The property industry is not really known for being overrun with women. I’m very privileged therefore to be part of a small group who meet annually, as guests of one of that very rare breed, a female property developer. The lunch is always held somewhere interesting and this year I was extremely pleased to discover that we were all going to be eating in the private dining room of the River Cafe. I hadn’t even known that there was one until today. I know. Fail...

  53. Published : Sunday, 18th November 2012

    The Thomas Cubitt | Thomas Cubitt.

    Because I clearly need to learn how to make yet more fattening food, my kind and thoughtful friend E decided that it was essential that I go on a Peggy Porschen cupcake-making course for my birthday treat. We had, mistakenly, both thought that it would be a day of novices playing around with cake, interspersed with quite a lot of cupcake gluttony. We were wrong. There were eight people on the course and at least four of them were semi-professional. One woman was setting up the only cupcake bakery in Luxembourg. Well, you would, wouldn’t you?...

  54. Published : Tuesday, 6th November 2012

    Barrafina | Barrafina. Simple. Perfect.

    I was happy that I had finally made it after months of near misses. Greeted by a plate of crispy deep-fried prawns, the recruitment consultant whose guest I was, had chosen wisely. They were incredibly fresh. I’m glad that I hadn’t noticed them earlier, opposite, in the iced display. They were so fresh that they were still actually moving. Not only moving, some of them were actually doing kamikaze dives off the side of the counter. It was a little piece of theatre that I wasn’t quite expecting...

  55. Published : Monday, 5th November 2012

    Honey & Co | Honey & Co.

    You’d walk past it if you didn’t know. And you wouldn’t know unless you’d read Marina O’Loughlin’s lovely review of this (or at least I wouldn’t). And given her review, I really had to try it. It’s run by a couple of ex-Ottolenghi employees and you can see certain similarities. There’s an attention to detail that’s unusual and a skill with presentation that marks this above the ordinary. I’d say it was Middle-Eastern food, but with a twist. And the twist is that this is actually Israeli food. And therein lies the difference. Israeli food is partly Middle Eastern, to a point, but it’s also Eastern European, and Moroccan, and Syrian and Iraqi and Yemeni and all the other places that Jews originally came from before they settled in Israel...

  56. Published : Friday, 2nd November 2012

    Meatliquor | MEATliquor. You’ll drool.

    I confess, I had not been until last week. My credibility as a food blogger must be brought into question by that , but, in my defence, it was only a month ago that I started eating meat again so don’t judge the Judge too harshly. And you can’t come here without eating meat. I’d had one of those mornings and I needed to commit carbicide. I grabbed a colleague and told him we were going for a burger. I’m not sure it was quite what he was expecting from me but there you go. I’m bored with our internal meeting rooms and this seemed like a good substitute...

  57. Published : Tuesday, 23rd October 2012

    10 Greek Street | 10 Greek Street. I have seen the light.

    I’ve never quite got over the death of Alastair Little. I’m talking about the restaurant in Soho which bore his name, obviously, not the man himself. Even though I don’t think that he cooked there very often towards the end, it was always consistent and interesting. With simple, fairly minimalist decor, it was my first choice for business lunches and dinners, where I wanted the food to be good and the atmosphere to be relaxed. I always wanted to eat everything on the menu. And no, that doesn’t always happen. Its demise left a gap in my life. Until last night. 10 Greek Street. Others I know have been singing its praises for some time and I’d been before (at lunchtime) but for some reason, hadn’t warmed to its charms...

  58. Really, I could sum it up in a sentence. Great food, dull room, small portions. If you’d like to hear me elaborate on that, please do feel free to carry on reading. We fancied this, because we wanted somewhere grown-up and quiet. I’m still recovering from a major life event and I’m not in the mood for buzzy glitzy cheery or any variant on those...

  59. Published : Thursday, 18th October 2012

    Hawksmoor Guildhall | Hawksmoor. I nearly fainted.

    I have to make a big fat confession before I start. I was meant to review this for The Lawyer for breakfast. I did have the breakfast, sharing the room with only two other punters, which, given the size of the place was a little disconcerting, but I didn’t get round to posting the review and I need to rectify that. The breakfast was fine by the way, but unless they get more people in to have it, I can’t see it’s worth their while to staff up to fill that cavernous space. And it’s a bit grim for breakfast, being underground. But there you go...

  60. Published : Sunday, 7th October 2012

    Dabbous | Dabbous. Round 2

    Even saying the words “round 2” will irritate some people. It would irritate me. It’s still incredibly hard to get a table here: partly due to the size – I guess around 35 covers – but mostly due to the quality of the cooking, which is unlike anything else in its price range. We started with a drink downstairs. I’m not sure why the bar isn’t being used as an extension of the restaurant and the lawyer in me is thinking planning permission or building regulations. Who knows. But it was empty. I assume that most people don’t know that you can get quite a lot of the restaurant dishes down here with your drinks because, given the booking situation, it should be mobbed...

  61. Published : Friday, 28th September 2012

    Le Café Anglais | Le Cafe Anglais.

    I wanted to love it. I used to love Kensington Place, in its early days and I love Rowley Leigh‘s writing in the FT, but I didn’t love this. I didn’t hate it either, though, I just wasn’t excited by it. This is the restaurant at the top of the former Whiteleys department store and occupies a corner end of the top floor of the building. The setting is incongruous. To get the restaurant, you need to walk past various cheap and cheerful chain restaurants and the overall effect is very American mall. You would never guess that at the end of the corridor you would find this elegant and atmospheric room. Surrounded by what appear to be the original and very attractive leaded light windows, the decor is pure 1930s art deco – successfully done...

  62. Published : Wednesday, 12th September 2012

    Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental | Bored at Bar Boulud.

    I’ve heard C bang on for years about Boulud in New York and how brilliant it is but I’m always a bit wary of the Ramsay-esque spread of sleb-chefs and so I hadn’t rushed to try it. You get there through a side entrance for the Mandarin Hotel, which is a good thing as it feels like a separate restaurant, not a hotel dining-room sort of place, at least it does when you first walk in...

  63. Really, I didn’t need nine courses.  It was sheer piggery.  I could have had six courses and really, I should have done, but you know how it is and to use the famous quote, I can resist everything except temptation...

  64. It’s the sort of place you could take your grandmother. Or someone really dull. It won’t scare them. Unusually, there were a lot of people there over the age of 50 which is always an unexpected pleasure in a Central London restaurant these days especially since I am approaching a milestone birthday of my own and need to know where these places are. Perhaps the oldies like it because this isn’t trendy or quirky and doesn’t have any gimmicks. Or play any music. It’s a simple brasserie, reasonably priced and with competent service. It’s the very first in the Galvin chain and very different to the other Galvin offerings...

  65. Published : Monday, 3rd September 2012

    28°-50° Marylebone | 28-50 Marylebone. You know you want to.

    Heritage. It’s the new organic isn’t it? Really, I don’t think it’s possible to order a non-heritage tomato in Central London anymore. This isn’t just any tomato, it’s an heritage tomato. Purleese. What did we do before? I’m bored with it now. And as if it wasn’t enough it’s spreading to other vegetables. Today, I had “heritage” carrots in 4 different colours.

  66. Offered the Savoy Grill to review, I jumped at it. I was thinking about the Savoy of old, of course, a place of legend. A grown up sort of a place, somewhere you might be taken by your kindly uncle, up from the country to visit his stockbroker and who would repair afterwards to his club, for a snifter and a snooze. If you lived in a 1950’s film that is. According to a 1904 edition of The Times, the Savoy Grill was “where people go to eat a modest luncheon or to dine on the way to the theatre without spending too much time or too much money.” Hmmm. One of those still applies. Guess which? Seen as an extension of No 10, Churchill used to hold Cabinet meetings here and it became a Thatcher favourite. Very male, very con, very trad. A place to see and be seen; politico heaven – never mind the food, smell the power...

  67. Published : Wednesday, 29th August 2012

    Dabbous | Dabbous. It’s the DB’s.

    *Warning* This review is fairly pointless because unless you have magic powers, you won’t be able to get a dinner reservation until next July or possibly August...

  68. Published : Saturday, 4th August 2012

    Locanda Locatelli | Liking Locanda Locatelli.

    The unexpected death of Central London during the Olympics meant I could get in on an hour’s notice. That never usually happens here, where visits have to be planned weeks in advance...

  69. Published : Sunday, 22nd July 2012

    Texture | Too much at Texture.

    This was compensation for not being invited to beach volleyball. Apparently, the whole of the property industry is going to see this excuse-for-a-sport (which bit of surprised are you, exactly?) and for some reason, my firm’s practice insurer thought I wouldn’t be interested in all that bouncing, so invited me to name the restaurant of my choice. That restaurant was Texture. It’s a joint venture between Agnar Sverrisson and Xavier Rousset and as they are both ex-Le Manoir, you’d expect fine dining and a decent wine list. Their website describes the food as “modern European with Scandinavian influences” and I can’t improve on that...

  70. Published : Thursday, 19th July 2012

    Donostia | Fancy a Basque?

    I’m getting to like Seymour Place. It’s like an alternative Marylebone, full of interesting shops and cafes but just that little bit off the beaten track...

  71. Published : Sunday, 1st July 2012

    Roast | Roast. Borough Market.

    Really, I hadn’t meant to stay for so long, but after the “SW19″ cocktail at the beginning and the unspecified, but very alcoholic cocktail at the end, I suspect that my sense of time was somewhat impaired...