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22 July 2014

Restaurants & Bars

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Blog Reviews from A Ridiculous Pleasure

(menu)


  1. After a refurbishment, the newly created Pantry at 108 Marylebone Lane – just minutes away from Marylebone Village at the back of the Marylebone Hotel – claims to serve the best afternoon tea in London. With the likes of Bea’s of Bloomsbury, Claridge’s, Fortnum and Mason and countless others to complete with, this is clearly a bold claim. Open since March, the Pantry is a charming, modern interpretation of a traditional English tea house, combining regal Edwardian-inspired furnishings with a contemporary menu worthy of a boutique central London hotel...

  2. The East End of London has always been a colourful and quirky part of the city, steeped in history and forming an integral part of London culture. Being a melting pot of cultures and religions, the diversity of the East End has led to the rise of many micro-cuisines which have since gone on to spread their influence across the London restaurant scene. A quick look at the trends which have sprung up in this bohemian part of London and you’ll soon spot a familiar list of some of the food movements of the last 20 years – from the popularity of age-old Jewish delis, the authentic curry houses of Brick Lane to the more recent influx of Vietnamese restaurants along the ‘Pho Mile’ and independent coffee shops of Shoreditch, there is an exciting buzz in East London that the rest of London keeps a close eye on...

  3. Published : Wednesday, 9th April 2014

    Boopshi's | Boopshi's

    My adventures for The Upcoming take me into W1 to explore the Austrian-influenced cuisine at Boopshi’s on Windmill Street. No matter how old you are, us Brits love to bawl with laughter at a good old-fashioned sausage joke. As I’m sat in Boopshi’s on Windmill Street, I wonder if the Austrians have a similar affinity with wiener jokes, or do they think those are the wurst kind? The owners of the hip new Austrian-themed restaurant have created a simple menu, focusing on two simple elements – schnitzels and spritzers, which happen to be my second and third favourite Austrian things beginning with ‘sch’ (just after Schwarzenegger, of course)...

  4. Herbs are wonderful things, but who can name just one favourite herb? Doing so seems unfairly harsh and incredibly narrow-minded. For instance, who can choose between cured salmon with dill and a perfectly pink piece of roast lamb studded with rosemary? And where would we be without the merits of parsley, coriander and mind? No tabbouleh, no summer rolls and no mojitos, which all in all equates to no fun at all. Shockingly, though, the brave people behind Islington’s Pizzeria Oregano (tucked away in a little alleyway just before the Screen On The Green cinema on Upper Street) have gone all out and picked one out of the bunch and even named their restaurant after it. Oregano is a bit of an unsung hero in the herb scene, losing out to some of its better known counterparts for some reason. Maybe it’s because nobody really knows how to pronounce it – is it or-egg-arno or oh-rega-no? (and what of basil – ba-zul or bay-zil?) Luckily this unjust herbal prejudice doesn’t reach this traditional-style pizzeria, where they clearly use it in abundance given the aroma that moves through the room every time a pizza is removed from the traditional flame-fired oven...

  5. Published : Wednesday, 12th February 2014

    Brooklyn Bowl | Eat. Drink. Rock. Roll. Brooklyn Bowl

    "You have to try the fried chicken with hot sauce and honey. I know it sounds weird but I promise it works." Not sure if the waitress is pulling my leg or being serious, I remain skeptical until a huge tray of golden-brown fried chicken is brought out with a squeezy bottle of runny honey. She’s right of course, this apparently American tradition of serving sweet with savoury works perfectly...

  6. One of the perks of being friends with people like The Foodie is being invited to lots of interesting places, from pop-ups to Michelin-star restaurants. So, it was probably no big surprise that months before her birthday, I received an invite to Dinner by Heston for The Foodie’s birthday. Tucked away behind the glamorous bar of the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, Dinner is a restaurant with a unique concept – its menu is devoted entirely to historic British recipes. Executive Head Chef for the Fat Duck group Ashley Palmer-Watts heads up the kitchen and his style of using seasonal British produce, along with a well-researched, daring and experimental menu (hardly surprising, for a restaurant associated with one of the most audacious chefs in the world), has landed Dinner two Michelin stars, which also makes it a regular feature on many top restaurant lists. However, being notoriously last minute as always, I didn’t take a look at the menu before sitting down at table, so I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of dishes spanning from the 1300s to the 1800s...

  7. Published : Tuesday, 24th December 2013

    BRGR.CO | Afternoon tea at BRGR.CO

    While most foodies have been debating about ‘London’s best burger’ for months, Soho-based vowel-deficient favourite BRGR.CO have attempted to change the conversation by offering a burger-inspired afternoon tea menu. Perhaps not the most obvious pairing, but it certainly is a unique concept from the Wardour Street favourite, who are better known for serving mammoth burgers such as the 8oz ‘The Masterpiece’ made with cuts of well-marbled steak.

  8. Food at the Prince of Wales in Brixton is served in the typical pub style – simply presented, with many familiar-looking carnivorous dishes on the menu, all served in generous portions within walking distance of the beer pumps. Yet, somehow, the Prince of Wales is not a typical gastropub at all. While the staff are friendly and the food is unmistakably wholesome, there is a level of finesse which seems slightly out of place in a South London watering hole. Chef Arno Maasdorp aims to create ‘intelligent comfort food’ – a description which aptly describes the well-constructed menu...

  9. Having landed in Terminal 5 just 3 hours earlier, I was just happy to be back in the heart of London, away from the functional but grey, drab architecture of Kiev. Slightly weary and feeling somewhat ‘travelled’, my mind wandered onto the possible contenders for the evening’s meal. I hoped it wouldn’t be the extravagant Roka, more out of consideration for The Flatmate’s wallet than anything else, and was also secretly hoping that it wasn’t bubbledogs, Bambou or Gaucho, which tragically just remind me of client lunches. So having heard glowing reviews of the Nordic/French inspired Dabbous weeks ago, but also warned of its notoriously long waiting list (even this review from Jay Rayner talks about how hard it is to get a table), I didn’t believe The Flatmate when she lead down Whitfield Street and nonchalantly stopped at its large, industrial wooden and steel doors. “You must be having a laugh.” “No I’m not, we’re going for a drink in the bar.” In my state of confusion, I hadn’t even had time to look around. The bar downstairs is a simple but stylish, industrial-looking space with several 2-person tables and a larger area with communal benches and low armchairs finished with more industrial steel. The cocktail menu is substantial and fairly unique, including the hilariously named IKEA Sours – a concoction containing Skåne akvavit, Mandarine Napoleon, orange bitters, rhubarb, jasmine and lemon...

  10. Published : Saturday, 2nd November 2013

    San Carlo Manchester | Glitzy, showy, but delicious - San Carlo

    “I feel a bit like I’m eating at Vesuvio’s with Tony and the guys,” said The Restaurant Fanatic, visibly happy with the comparison. And he’s right – the San Carlo’s experience is all very dramatic. Before you’ve even sat down at your table, you’re greeted by three attractive front of house girls, with infectious, toothy smiles, and taken around an impressive display of lobsters and crabs, so perfect they almost look like fake, amongst a forest of emerald green parsley and gigantic spherical lemons on a mountain of ice. Walking past other tables, we see some patrons who almost belong in Vesuvio’s in The Sopranos – middle-aged balding men with napkins tucked into their shirts, their wives wearing their best cocktail dresses and jewellery and groups of non-descript businessmen in suits with their clients. All this, just a 10 minute drive from Manchester Piccadilly...

  11. The menu at Gordon Ramsay’s Union Street Café changes seasonally (although a month after visiting, the same ‘sample menu’ was still on the website), so it’s difficult to know if this is a common experience for people who have dined there, but we were given a menu which was practically written in Italian. Not just a few words here or there. Actual full-on Italian. Having some ‘nduja, polpo and grappa feature on your menu for the sake of the ambience (or looking a little pretentious) is perfectly harmless, but when your guests have to ask the waiters to translate the menu – which is what happened to me and 4 friends – maybe it’s time to tone down the ‘native’ effect...

  12. I jump out of the cab, already pretty sure that I’m five minutes late for the group dinner that I arranged. I give my name to the waitress, who leads me downstairs and tells me that two of my friends are already here, but still tries to reassure me with a smile. Great, I am late. Apologies are made and I take a bit of heckling from old friends. Luckily I’m not the last one to get there, so I relax and take a look around. Downstairs is more intimate, with larger tables for groups, than the ground floor. Sufficiently dark, but not over-the-top, so that it’s very relaxed without being too seedy/first-date-y. We’re at The Bull Steak Expert - not the most straightforward or modest name, but apt for a small Argentinian restaurant specialising in, erm, steak. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much. Just a small restaurant, sandwiched between a couple of delis on Red Lion Street. Almost invisible on street level, even with a red neon sign, it’s the kind of place you can walk past a hundred times and still miss; the kind of restaurant which is self-assured enough that it doesn’t need to gloat...