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23 April 2014

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Blog Reviews from Wrap Your Lips Around This

(menu)

A London Food Blog


  1. Published : Saturday, 12th April 2014

    Augustus Harris | Augustus Harris

    In Britain, we are more likely to gorge to distension and drink to cirrhosis than embrace the idea of moderation. The notion of spending an evening with a few bar snacks and a few drinks is fairly uncommon. Our venue tonight, however, is designed exactly for this kind of lighter intake. Augustus Harris is fashioned around the Venetian philosophy of grazing at the local bàcaro which serve wine with tapas-like cicchetti. Augustus Harris gives new life to the idea of bar food; try crostini of crusty baguette with roasted wild mushrooms or mackerel with red onions. Although there are cicchetti of lesser merit (a desperately syrupy creation of gorgonzola, grape and honey), kudos must go to the attentive barman who deducts these from the bill. On other plates, slices of air dried and cured bresoala topped with rocket. It’s not genius, but it fits perfectly amongst the smoked copper surfaces, shelves of Italian produce and bottles of deeply rubied Rosso...

  2. Published : Tuesday, 8th April 2014

    The Meat Co | The Meat Co

    Say what you want about Muslims, but there is a helluva lot of money to be made from them. The halal eating market, although better than before, is still largely ignored by the majority of restaurants in London. I can’t describe to you how arduous it is to find somewhere to eat for a family event, which isn’t a tired falafel affair, or worse still, more peri-peri chicken. Rightly smelling the money to be made, The Meat Co has astutely come forward to press against the teat of Muslim consumerism, to find it abundantly giving. The Meat Co (formerly called The Meat and Wine Co) is a South African steakhouse which first opened in 2000. It branched out to Australia, and in doing so caught the fancies of a certain Emirati sheikh, who chopped off the offending part of the name (as they are so wont to do) and popularized it across The Middle East. All grisly stereotypes aside, The Meat Co is a chain in the know. Take our London branch in Westfield, for example, which is relentlessly busy. A curious thing indeed, considering how imperfect the food is...

  3. Published : Monday, 7th April 2014

    Sixtyone | Sixty One

    Sixty One is a new venture from the people behind Searcy’s private dining restaurant in The Gherkin. It is located in an intimate, boutique hotel (read: small and unheard of) just past Marble Arch. The dullness of this restaurants name and hotel setting means that booking a table is unnervingly easy. As the meal commences, however, it is clear that the emptiness of the place is no indication of its talent. To start, a basket of teasingly hot carbs and whipped butter – homemade baguette, intense marmite bread and soft rolls. My personal trainer will be writhing in his lycras, but bread like that speaks, nay, begs to be devoured. With food must come drink, and a cocktail is in order. The delightfully named ‘Tequila Mockingbird’ winks at me from the dessert section, but to wait until then would be certain misery...

  4. Published : Monday, 31st March 2014

    The Rum Kitchen Carnaby | The Rum Kitchen

    Once you realize that the food at The Rum Kitchen (Carnaby) is not the main reason to visit, you end up having a much better time. This shift in focus is lubricated nicely into position with the help of an extensive rum cabinet. There are allegedly 100 different types of rum here, all split up into a melee of rum-based cocktails. To start, a Rumbustion is a dream of a drink, all tall and smooth and happy with Jamaican coconut rum, apricot liquor and orange bitters. A Rubin Carter cocktail swirls 3yr and 7yr Havana rums together in a medium of passionfruit and lime, and is an excellent way to forget the shortcomings of fried squid, which is more crumb than fish. A soft shell crab burger offers more of the same disappointment, featuring a crustacean so limp that a shot of Viagra could not rouse it. The cocktail menu proves adequate therapy once more, where a Rum Rum Sling is pink with cherries and hot with El Dorado rum...

  5. Published : Tuesday, 25th March 2014

    Smokehouse | Smokehouse

    As boozers go, this is a diamond of a find. It’s no surprise that the food at Smokehouse is leagues ahead of your usual pub grub, considering the breadth of experience of its head chef Neil Rankin. Making London tummies happy is a talent that Rankin has honed across the kitchens of Pitt Cue Co, John Salt, and Rhodes 24 to name a few. Now his expertise finds its home in a snug corner of Islington, where out of his kitchen come such delights as just-cooked egg yolk on apple pie with a generous serving of seared foie gras. Duck egg makes a second appearance under a seasonal heaping of parmesan, artichoke and purposefully burnt leeks which chomp together with good harmony of flavours. Following this, a salty-chewy slab of sourdough, textured with a landscape of lobster bisque and crab...

  6. Published : Wednesday, 19th March 2014

    Hawksmoor Seven Dials | Hawksmoor Seven Dials

    Hawksmoor is a British steakhouse serving well-sourced beef and we-mean-business cocktails. Although a simple proposition, the difficulty in securing a booking is enough to see how popular the theme is. It is in this wisdom that there are now four branches across London, the Hawksmoor Seven Dials restaurant located in Covent Garden. The dearest items on the menu are the sharing steaks, priced at £7.50-£13 per 100g depending on the cut. The size of the cuts varies from a manageable 600g portion, to a freakish 1000g. A quick mental arithmetic is all it takes to see that prices can escalate and quickly...

  7. Published : Monday, 17th March 2014

    The Dairy Bar & Bistro | The Dairy

    The Dairy is located in Clapham Common, an area which seems like it would be dulled by pollution and scum. It is in fact leafy and most agreeable, the presence of a Waitrose adding weight to its obvious gentrification. Elevated to the realms of the better-heeled, it is no surprise that a chef who has trained in Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin starred restaurant ‘Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons’ should open up a restaurant here. In spite of the chef’s impressive pedigree, prices at The Dairy are resolutely affordable. Tasting plates are the order of the day here, with an impressive selection of produce coming from the restaurants rooftop garden. Carrots, for example, have that just-pulled-out-of-the-ground freshness about them. Meanwhile, an extraordinarily smooth mousse of chicken liver has the lightest of texture, lifted with fruity dashes of quince...

  8. Published : Friday, 14th March 2014

    Social Eating House | Social Eating House

    Social Eating House is another offering from Executive Chef Jason Atherton, whose other restaurants include Pollen Street Social, Little Social and Berners Tavern. Having already become acquainted with his style of cooking elsewhere, there is nothing especially striking about mains of seared cod, loin of venison, balsamic reductions and smoked cheeses. Offerings like this can only extend the feeling of tediousness after a dreary working day. Happily, the starters pack enough of a buzz to break the asphyxiating coma of this Londoners week. Wobbly soft-yolk eggs are fried in crumb and topped with just the right amount of pepper...

  9. Published : Tuesday, 11th March 2014

    Balthazar | Balthazar

    This French restaurant is the work of an Englishman, whose original Balthazar is located in New York. As unlikely a proposition as this may be the original Balthazar basks in good opinion. The London Balthazar finds its home in what was previously a theatre, overlooking the market in Covent Garden. The newly pimped out space has a price tag of £14m for the refurb, and would not be out of place in a Francophiles wet dream. Think moody red banquettes and mirrors so large and so tilted as to raise suspicion. In this backdrop of expense and suggestion then, the categorical rejection of London’s Balthazar is all the blunter. The majority of critic opinion thus far would ward off even the most obtuse reader, except of course a food blogger committed to the cause...

  10. Published : Thursday, 6th March 2014

    Bread Street Kitchen | Bread Street Kitchen

    I would expect a restaurant by Gordon Ramsay to be like a perfume by a celebrity. That is to say, my hopes for his endeavors aren’t optimistic. Still, the endless tedium of restaurants that form part of Ramsey’s Empire must be doing fabulous things for his bottom line. Whether or not they are as rewarding to his paying customers is a test to put to Bread Street Kitchen...

  11. Published : Monday, 3rd March 2014

    Grain Store | Grain Store

    The regeneration of Kings Cross has turned a once dubious locale into somewhere much more palatable. The derelict warehouses north of the station are now rejuvenated spaces, home to the restaurant Grain Store. The philosophy at Grain Store shines the spotlight on vegetables, demoting animal proteins to the periphery. Even though my loyalties will always remain with the latter, it would be a lie to say that the notion of butternut squash ravioli doesn’t excite me. The ravioli can be had as a starter or main, which sees perfectly-pressed pasta full of roasted vegetable. Peppered in between these playful sacks are flavour-bombs of mustard apricot, more subtle than the fruit itself. A finishing dash of pumpkin seed oil rounds off the flavour profile decidely well...

  12. Heston Blumenthal is a chef synonymous with mad-cap food creations, whose experimentations with ingredients are well known. This mastery of illusion is evident in complex constructions which sometimes look like one thing and taste like its opposite. You would expect this kind of wizardry to be abundant at Dinner, but there are only a few instances where this is the case. The philosophy at Dinner is based around the resurrection of long forgotten recipes. A medieval starter of ‘meat fruit’ looks like an orange, whose skin is crafted from carefully shaped and dimpled mandarin jelly. Cutting into this reveals a parfait of chicken liver and foie gras, served with toasted sourdough...

  13. Published : Monday, 24th February 2014

    The Clove Club | The Clove Club

    The Clove Club has fast become hot property in the restaurant world. Although a set menu is imposed in the main dining room, an a la carte is available in the bar which offers many of the same dishes without the restriction. The freedom of choice is a nice surprise, and the evening starts amiably enough with an order of cod chitterlings (intestines). An effervescent waiter describes them so favourably that to spurn his advice would be an injustice. The chitterlings are nothing that you would expect from a fish; instead they have a padded, rich texture similar to that of sweetbreads. Seeming like a thing that is best eaten with some fava beans and a nice chianti, the chitterlings are entirely delectable...

  14. Published : Thursday, 20th February 2014

    Foxlow | Foxlow

    Foxlow is the new restaurant from the guys behind Hawksmoor. Although steak is also on the menu here, the emphasis is on less common cuts of meat. A salad bar serving a jewelled array of nut-studded choices suggests that Foxlow is a less visceral alternative to your usual steakhouse. Peppery squid to start is effervescent with chilli and lime. The batter is delicate whilst the squid itself is soft and giving. Delicacy is surrendered to stature with the next course. A ten hour beef shortrib is one of the biggest cuts of meat I have ever been presented with. This mammoth hunk of slow-smoked meat is served on a bone of pre-historic proportions. The beef is veined with softened fat and falls off the bone in neat layers. The cabbage kimchi it is served with kicks the meat up a notch with a pickled chilli frisson. A sauce would improve the dish, but on a whole it still pleases...

  15. Published : Sunday, 16th February 2014

    Meatliquor | MEATliquor

    The food at MEATliqour is burger-centric and highly sought after. Queues are inevitable as the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, but going off-peak can help bypass the waiting. With this in mind, we arrive just after noon to a queue-less MEATliquor, feeling as if death itself has been cheated. The vibe inside is trashy, loud and darkened. Conversation from neighbouring tables feels thunderous, as if the acoustics are specifically tailored to be deafening. The walls are covered in clashing graffiti so that both the ears and eyes are overwhelmed. The tongue is about to feel the same treatment. There is a good amount of choice on the menu; a ‘dead hippie’ burger is oozy and slippery with melted cheese. Tomatoey sauce squelches out of the bun as bites are taken, dribbling down fingers and wrists with bits of onion. The double beef patties are thick, juicy-pink and covered in liquid cheese...

  16. Published : Saturday, 15th February 2014

    Shake Shack | Shake Shack

    Shake Shack is a burger joint from across the pond, now located in Covent Garden. The hype around this American import means that queues to get in can be an hour long. For the burger-militants out there, there is no obstacle too large for the promised patty. Upon ordering, buzzers are handed to signal when orders are ready to collect from a hatch. This second round of waiting can be efficiently used to scout for a table. You can dine in the communal piazza space of the market, or in limited indoor space specifically for Shake Shakers. Shake Shack looks like how a McDonalds would look in The Emerald City. This similarity to Maccy-D’s extends to the food...

  17. Published : Thursday, 13th February 2014

    Cambio de Tercio | Cambio De Tercio

    Cambio De Tercio is named after a bullfighting move, where a matador charges in a new direction to avoid a bull. With the philosophy of serving ‘modern’ Spanish food instead of traditional tapas, it would seem that the restaurant has taken inspiration from its name. This intention of freshness, however, is at odds with some aspects of Cambio De Tercio. Don’t get me wrong, there are some dishes which are genuinely good...

  18. Published : Monday, 10th February 2014

    Flesh and Buns | Flesh and Buns

    A little playground humour is always appreciated, and so the explicitly named Flesh and Buns has a certain titillating appeal. This is not enough, however, to warrant a visit. In fact a restaurant thus titled seems less likely to be of any value on the food front, when the tone is already set for sensationalism and flippancy. The fear of being at risk of a gimmick is overridden, however, when the legend of a certain dessert makes itself known to me. This dessert of promised pleasure involves fire and my undivided attention. Its name is simply the s’more, and it consists of marshmallow lollipops held over a table-top flame to toast. The resulting sugar-goo-gunk (the technical term) is then sandwiched between biscuits and green tea flavoured white chocolate. The hot mallow smelts itself onto chocolate and wafer with ease, ready to be devoured...

  19. Published : Wednesday, 5th February 2014

    Little Social | Little Social

    Jason Atherton breeds restaurants at a rate that would make even the most virile of bunnies blush. Since opening Pollen Street Social, he has gone on to launch Little Social, Social Eating House and Berners Tavern. With each restaurant opening, Atherton has thwarted the derision of critics and bloggers alike. Given this almost unanimous seal of approval, expectations for Little Social are high. In the first instance, these expectations are fully met in a buttery artichoke risotto. The voluptuous plumes of cream and carbohydrate are gummy and toothsome, festooned with curried sweetbreads, pickled chanterelle and rocket. This layering of texture is echoed in a parsnip veloute, which is poured over slow-cooked egg, crouton and wild mushroom. Rupturing the swollen egg releases a ribbon of velvety yolk, thickening the mouthfeel of the veloute. This is comfort food at its plushest and most dependable...

  20. Published : Thursday, 30th January 2014

    Burger and Lobster Mayfair | Burger and Lobster

    There was a time when a restaurant was utterly bereft without a substantial menu. Where once a flourishing cursive would mark the journey through starter to dessert, tonight none such exists. Menus are superfluous at Burger and Lobster as there are only three items to be had; a whole lobster (steamed or grilled), lobster roll, or burger. The price of any of the three options is £20, so you would have to be a fool of incalculable proportion to opt for the burger. In the presence of lobster, you do have to cut all ties to the lowlier beef. Espiecially when both are pitched at the same price. Don’t be that person...

  21. Published : Monday, 27th January 2014

    L'Autre Pied | L’Autre Pied

    There is something sweet about the Michelin starred L’Autre Pied. That the 7 course tasting menu is 50% off prompts a dark curiosity which is almost perverse in nature. This is the kind of peering interest you might have when something unfortunate happens, and you relish every detail. The thrill of playing spectator to L’Autre Pieds inability to fill tables is too delicious to miss. To my chagrin, the night starts off on entirely the wrong foot with a variety of freshly baked bread. The generosity with the walnut loaf, sweet onion brioche, and parmesan bread is vexing. To further undermine my voyeuristic endeavours, canapés of poppy seed pastry and chicken liver parfait are bursting with olive and salt. Henceforth, a wary recognition of how brilliant the food is ensues...

  22. Published : Tuesday, 21st January 2014

    Nopi | NOPI

    NOPI is what you might imagine the light at the end of the tunnel to lead to, a heavenly waiting room of sorts. Pure white walls are diffused in a golden glow, such that the overall feeling is of a floating space unencumbered by hard lines and corners. Bars are marble topped, fittings are brass, and tables are neatly laid with white paper covers – the stage is set. A blank canvas is the ideal backdrop for owners/chefs Ottolenghi and Tamimi to showcase their hybrid cuisine. Both chefs grew up on opposite sides of Jerusalem, one on the Jewish west side, and the other on the Palestinian east. It is in London that they discovered their common ground, joining sides to create food rich with the myriad flavours of the Middle East, Mediterranean and Asia...

  23. Published : Thursday, 16th January 2014

    Duck & Waffle | Duck and Waffle

    Like a trophy wife, Duck and Waffle is designed to please. Its wraparound London views, quirky transatlantic menu and 24/7 opening hours do much to entice the masses of London. Located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, a glass elevator transports diners up to the restaurant at a breathless rate of less than a second per floor. The smooth ascent propels you to one of the highest points of the London skyline, sending your insides all aflutter. Although I don’t intend to mount any peaks by natural means, straddling the London skyline in less than a minute feels pretty awesome. The bar area offers views looking down at the Gherkin, and then further into Canary Wharf. Through the bar is the dining area, laid out so that looking in any direction gives a view of the city. This being said, the best experience is still to be had at a table up against the glass...

  24. Published : Tuesday, 14th January 2014

    Cinnamon Kitchen | The Cinnamon Club

    The Cinnamon Club is housed in the Old Westminster Library. This Victorian grade II listed building has all the beauty and pomp of the area, being close to Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. After a tempered renovation, the dining area retains original parquet floor and wooden panelling, as well as a number of books lining the walls of the mezzanine. This, however, does not create the best ambience in which to dine. Dulled wood against an expanse of white walls feels stark, and creates an uncomfortably austere environment...

  25. Published : Thursday, 9th January 2014

    Casa Brindisa | Casa Brindisa

    The daily exodus of the over-worked masses from the heart of London to its frayed ends is a familiar transit. The most wrist-slitting journey is on the westbound district line which dodders along at an excruciating pace, such that a switchblade is often the only thing for it. On occasion, a break from this subterranean hell is in order – cue Casa Brindisa, located on the South Kensington stop of the line which shall not be named. The inability to afford both a travel card and a permanent residence in South Kensington may have you twitching again for the relief of that sharp edge, however eating here can be much more forgiving on your battered ego. Just outside the station are a multitude of affordable restaurants, the Spanish variety offered by Casa Brindisa. In warmer months the al fresco seating is often packed, whilst on this frosty evening the warmth of its capacious innards will do more to drive out the imminent frostbite. In a victory of timing, the first plates arrive along with the sensation in our toes. The charcuteria selection is an unstinting plate of chorizo, salchichón, lomo and teruel ham, with a generous side serving of spongy bread and olive oil. The cheese selection is more scant, made of timid little triangles of brittle manchego, nutty payoyo, briny blue picos de europa and ermesenda. Accompanying these are blobs of quince, grapes and tomato jam, which augment the mellow cheese with tone and inflection...

  26. Published : Monday, 16th December 2013

    Kitchen W8 | Kitchen W8

    Kitchen W8 is the only restaurant to take bookings on the particular Friday that I am left scrambling for one. Usually I’m organized enough to secure one of the restaurants off my swelling list, but after dozens of rejections the flat sounding Kitchen W8 is beginning to look viable. After an easy 7:30pm booking, its once desolate name seems as harmonious to my ears as a babes gargle. Although Kitchen W8 is a self-proclaimed neighbourhood joint, its Kensington location is indicative that this declaration should be taken with a large helping of salt. To quell any lingering doubt, one look at the double figure price bracket of the starters and ever dearer mains is conclusive...

  27. Published : Saturday, 14th December 2013

    Tom's Kitchen | Tom's Kitchen

    Toms Kitchen is the informal counterpart to Tom Aikens eponymous Michelin starred restaurant. It is awkwardly positioned just beyond the reach of both South Kensington and Sloane Square, which means it must please that much more...

  28. Published : Wednesday, 11th December 2013

    Pollen Street Social | Pollen Street Social

    Sired by Jason Atherton, there is potential for Pollen Street Social to offer the kind of culinary flexing that one would expect from an ex elBulli chef. As well as working with Ferran Adrià of elBulli, Atherton has also honed his talents in the kitchens of Pierre Koffman, Marco Pierre White and Gordon Ramsey. With a bit of luck, the stellar success of Pollen Street Social will reflect in our experience...

  29. Published : Wednesday, 4th December 2013

    Gymkhana | Gymkhana

    Gymkhana refers to the social clubs popular with the high society of British Colonial India. Having never been to the Indian subcontinent, I won’t attempt to vouch for the authenticity of the menu or the stylised interior of the Gymkhana in Mayfair. I don’t give much of a toss whether or not the hogs head hanging on a wall actually came from the Maharajah of Jodhpur, or if the cut glass goblets are from the Maharani of Baroda. Rather than waxing lyrical about the exact ingredient that makes the kid goat keema so silken (ok, it’s the sautéed brain), here is what really matters...

  30. Published : Thursday, 28th November 2013

    Le Cercle | Le Cercle

    The proximity of Le Cercle to Sloane Square is only fitting, given that it has one of the most affected names going. Its location, however, is a perfect fit for my dining partner, who nurtures a certain fixation for the SW postcode. Scanning the menu reveals talk of savoury macaron and chocolate covered foie gras, and with curiosity suitably stoked, a booking is made. The entrance to Le Cercle is almost vacuum sealed. Its sliding glass door is locked, and seems to only open after a quick visual inspection by the receptionist. I’m not entirely sure which standards of presentation are trying be upheld as both my trainers and I are allowed in by the gum-chewing gentleman at reception...

  31. Published : Friday, 22nd November 2013

    Hedone | Hedone

    Hedone is a Michelin starred blip on an otherwise ordinary suburban high street. Armoured in slate-grey cladding and frosted windows, it is easy to overlook. An unmarked door does little to demystify, but we, the initiated, know better. The restaurant is open plan, such that the brushed steel kitchen is in full view in one corner of the square area. Watching the chefs as they flit around each other with organized and practised finesse is highly fascinating, and a highlight of dining here...

  32. Published : Monday, 18th November 2013

    Zuma | Zuma

    The superlatively clean flavours of Japanese cuisine render me as submissive as the stereotype – I am undone. With a bias as heavy as this to satisfy, my palate leads me towards the aggressively hyped Zuma. Moored in Knightsbridge, Zuma is littered with a clientele of suited older men and vacant, artificially orange girls-for-rent. Forging a path through this coiffed mass, we find ourselves seated in a slick, blond wood and frosted glass interior. Like the room, the menu is dominated by items cooked over the Robata grill. The best of these is a whole lobster, roasted with garlic and floral hojisu-infused butter. Matching this in flavour is a fillet of seabass with flame-licked skin covering supple flesh...

  33. I for one sometimes hanker to be stuffed to satisfaction. With this in mind, the 7 course tasting menu at Alyn Williams at The Westbury seems a viable candidate. Both the standard and vegetarian menus offer streaks of gastronomic delight, restrained only by the economy of portions. A single seared scallop is crusted with golden caramelization, whilst the rest of the milky mollusc is seemingly untouched by heat. Cubes of mackeral with truffle are on the same scale as the pomegranate seeds which surround them, but still possess clarity of flavour and balance. Beer braised snails are meaty little balls in a brown butter sauce, covered with a fine potato foam and circle of jelly...

  34. Published : Saturday, 9th November 2013

    Hawksmoor Air Street | Hawksmoor Air Street

    A bloody cut of meat is perhaps one of the few remaining animal tendencies we indulge in. As insistent as a birthright, the acquisition of said flesh may sometimes seem like the greatest need to fulfil. Cue Hawksmoor: three of its four restaurants focus solely on producing steak, whilst the fourth, Hawksmoor Air Street, shares the menu with creatures of the sea – well worth a visit if reviews are to be believed. The interior of Hawksmoor Air Street is a beautiful thing indeed, from the black marble elliptical staircase, through to the grand art deco chandeliers and leather upholstery in the verdant colour of money. The first floor dining area is a long, lateral slice of architecture, which follows the curvature of Regents Street. A space as elongated as this could feel desolate, but it is cleverly broken up into more manageable chunks...

  35. Published : Wednesday, 6th November 2013

    Taqueria | Taqueria

    Taqueria is a frills-free, wine-in-cups, plates-on-request kind of a place. Formica tables quiver suggestively, and white walls are smattered with a collection of posters. Glowering out of one such is the generously moustachioed Zapata, leading his second revolution – the liberation of Me-hi-can food of course. It is no mean feat to lift this underdog of a cuisine from its sullied position in the tough London food ranks, but Taqueria manages it whilst being ridiculously light on the wallet...

  36. Published : Wednesday, 30th October 2013

    Clos Maggiore | Clos Maggiore

    It’s no secret that the most romantic restaurant in London is regarded as Clos Maggiore. A single room in this establishment is apparently potent enough to win this and other racier accolades – reason enough to steal a peep. This reputation is made flesh in a room twined with an eternity of white flowers, whose blossoms are conceived in its darkened corners, branching up towards its apex, and finally merging under a glass ceiling. Twinkling fairy lights interweave with the thick foliage and mirrors are cleverly used to deepen the space, transforming it into the set of an enchanted forest...

  37. Published : Monday, 21st October 2013

    Chisou | Chisou

    Given that Chisou is largely unheard of, this Japanese restaurant has so far escaped probing scrutiny. Although it lacks the infamy of heavyweights like Roka and Zuma, the food at Chisou hovers around the same quality of its more prominent peers. The Mayfair arm of Chisou projects an unassuming façade, and although its modest interior sports ‘hip’ blonde wood and oriental art, these are largely puerile in nature when compared to the wow-factor at better known restaurants...

  38. Published : Friday, 18th October 2013

    Launceston Place | Launceston Place

    It’s not often than we can be proud of British food, dare I say cuisine, but Tim Allen and his band of chefs at Launceston Place rescue it magnificently. Our food revelation begins in the lushest fold of Kensington, in the sweet spot between Gloucester Road and Hyde Park where those infinitely elegant townhouses, layered like wedding cakes, rule supreme. As usual, cocktails begin proceedings; both the cosmopolitan and negroni are strong enough so that sipping one throughout dinner is sufficient to keep the vibe buoyant. Canapés of choux pastry with béchamel and fried parmesan bonbons kick start the night...

  39. Published : Tuesday, 15th October 2013

    Gaucho Piccadilly | Gaucho

    ‘If it didn’t moo, don’t sit on it’. This, surely, is the philosophy at Gaucho, where a horde of cow skins have been parted from their flesh to clad chairs and walls. Every other discernible surface is a sulky shade of black, dimly lit with wag-chic white chandeliers. The darkness is compounded by windows that are boarded up with black slats, resulting in a space that is obstinately blogger unfriendly. The meat is Argentinian, and before its timely demise, can be found grazing peaceably along the flat plains of the fertile Pambas. A less joyous existence awaits in London; raw rump, sirloin, fillet, rib-eye, and a marinated spiral cut of Churrasco de Cuadril are brought out on a hefty slab of wood by an enthused waiter who points out their merits...

  40. Published : Saturday, 12th October 2013

    Amaya | Amaya

    The open grill at Amaya is tantalising to watch, an unrestricted arena where unexpected tastes blend with traditional Indian cooking methods of tandoor, sigri and tawa. A range of sea and land dwelling creatures are basted in homespun marinades and seared on charcoal flames, hotter than the fiery pits of Hades. This passion is whispered throughout the plush opulence of Amaya where dusky mahogany meets warm rosewood, and crystals hang like polished stalactites in this sultry Aladdin’s cave. The menu is arranged in three main sections according to how long the dishes take to arrive, and are brought out as soon as they are ready. Most plates can be ordered as smaller portions to better explore the menu. First out are the king scallops, gently griddled and steeped in a fragrant herb curry redolent of coconut, lime, and cumin...

  41. Published : Monday, 7th October 2013

    Cassis Bistro | Cassis Bistro

    In 2012 Head Chef Massimiliano Blasone left the renowned Apsleys to join Cassis Bistro, reviving this South Kensington restaurant with an Italian branded flair and finesse. During the Blasone-Era the blogeratti came, judged, and left happy, and their reams of backdated pictures and gushing reviews keep the legacy buoyant. A year later and Blasone has left to conquer new ground, and so this is perhaps a morning-after review. Now that the party has ended, has the dancing stopped and do previous reviews still hold true? The interior of Cassis is clinically correct; stone hued walls, interchangeable artwork and seemingly meaningless French words etched onto glass dividers – we hope the menu holds more soul than the décor. A pre-starter of green and black olive tapenade is roughly chopped and delicious spread on fried bread crisps, whilst slices of spongy tomato focaccia soak up olive oil beautifully. The cocktail list has a number of interesting items including fruity pear, lychee and cherry cocktails (sufficiently strong)...

  42. Published : Thursday, 3rd October 2013

    Nightjar | Nightjar

    Praise the Protestants! Credit where credit is due, we must give thanks to those who started the Prohibition Era of 1920’s America, in turn giving us the most hallowed haunt of the liquor enthusiast – the speakeasy. Intended as secret dens selling the elicit sauce, the modern day speakeasy has growing prominence in London. Be this as it may, Nightjar does it best. The entrance to this speakeasy is easy to miss; its only signage a discrete emblem of a nightjar (a nocturnal bird) on an isolated door. The door leads onto a narrow staircase which takes you down to the darkened bar area itself, complete with clandestine alcoves and crooks. The pressed tin ceiling is a beautiful thing, and suggestive of the night we have in store. There is a strict table service policy – no standing around and no ordering at the bar – we are here to be served...

  43. Published : Sunday, 29th September 2013

    Brasserie Zédel | Brasserie Zedel

    It’s not exactly cheap once you order 3 courses and drinks, but Brasserie Zedel offers decent value for money in London’s West End, and a feel of something different – the likes of which the formula driven Café Rouge, Pizza Express and Bills can only hope for. Located less than a minute from Piccadilly Circus, this basement restaurant is deceptively bathed in light. Vast and sprawling, there is a giddy, over-the-top theatricality involved in the red velvet seating, brass rails, and gold leaf embellished marble columns – we are not in Kansas anymore Toto. The menu, written on a rather cumbersome sheet of A3, contains dishes about as subtle as the décor including egg mayo, lobster cocktail, quiche lorraine, frogs legs and snails...

  44. Published : Wednesday, 25th September 2013

    Casa Malevo | Casa Malevo

    This Argentinian steakhouse is located dangerously close to the stain that is Edgware Road, so much so that I find myself lining up a number of contingency options on the short walk there. On entering I am struck by how ordinary the interior of Casa Malevo is; after reading a number of shiny reviews about a gaucho inspired parrillada heaven, I feel slightly cheated. Strangely, the wow room is hidden in the basement and allotted to private dining, dominated by a chunky time-worn table with wine bottles lining the walls. Back upstairs in our less-than-lavish surroundings the tables are squished in tight and I find myself seated with the emergency exit to one side and the coat rack behind me. Now that the scene is set, surely something equally as tasty will follow, and in this regard we are not disappointed...

  45. Published : Wednesday, 18th September 2013

    La Trompette | La Trompette

    La Trompette sits effortlessly in tranquil Chiswick; elegant grey awnings and etched glass spill onto Devonshire Road and its interior swells with flourishes of conversation from a rather dapper local clientele. This Michelin starred restaurant has undergone a double pronged refurbishment of both its dining room and kitchen; the former extended to include two new dining areas, and the latter now headed by Rob Weston, former head chef at The Square – as such we expect great things. On being seated a choice of breads is offered – white, brown or walnut with raisin, all freshly baked on the premises each day. Although the conventional a la carte dinner menu is omitted in favour of an imposed three course set menu, there is nothing regimental about the calibre and variety of offerings...

  46. Published : Sunday, 15th September 2013

    Bar Boulud at the Mandarin Oriental | Bar Boulud

    Bar Boulud is the first London offering from the acclaimed Daniel Boulud, chef behind a number of restaurants across the pond including a 3 Michelin starred, self-named culinary wonder in New York. Although such lush provenance is not uncommon, I still feel hope filled tendrils curl around my brain/heart/stomach compelling me to pay a visit. As always, Knightsbridge is brimming with (foreign) bodies best avoided under normal circumstances, but a certain Boulud beckons and so we squeeze through a fevered throng of money-belt foisting tourists and make for the Mandarin Oriental. The restaurant is located at the lower ground floor of said hotel, and has a separate entrance to avoid the vulgarity of flapping around a hotel foyer like an odd part/ dying fish...

  47. Published : Tuesday, 10th September 2013

    Elena's L'Etoile | Elena L’Etoile

    Evidence that Elena L’Etoile has passed a hundred years perched on Charlotte Street is written in the worn red velvet seating, starched linens and signed photographs of youthful actors from another era – proof that Susan Sarandon didn’t emerge from a womb etched and sardonic, should anyone need it. The petite dining room forms part of the character of this establishment and some of the wait staff seem as if they have been fixtures for a very long time...

  48. Published : Sunday, 8th September 2013

    Arbutus | Arbutus

    The interior of Arbutus speaks of understated elegance; white walls are lined with monochrome photos and lots of natural light filters in through large windows. Its best feature is how generously sized and spaced out the tables are – a welcome change from the usual packed-like-sardines experience. Arbutus makes full use of ingredients which are most usually discarded, utilizing ox and lamb tripe, trotters, and pigs head. It’s a clever idea to revert to offal, and a veritable cash cow considering how cheap these ingredients are and the mark up in price on the menu...

  49. Published : Thursday, 5th September 2013

    Haché Fulham | Hache

    The ambience inside Hache is unambiguously romantic; low lighting illuminates bleached wooden furniture, and framed mirrors line the walls, draped with whimsical flower blossom fairy lights. As if to drive the point home, toilet doors are painted in a bright pink glitter – Hache is a burger establishment most definitely geared towards the girls. The shear variety of the menu puts other burger joints to shame; it seems as if anything you can put between buns, has been. This includes shoulder of lamb with mint sauce or harissa, crispy duck with hoisin sauce, and Thai fishcakes with sweet chilli sauce. The beef patties are made of lean chopped steak (and on the menu referred to as steak) and delivered fresh daily from a farm in Ayrshire, and buns are either ciabatta or brioche...