2 August 2014

Restaurants & Bars

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Blog Reviews from The Funky Truth


  1. Published : Saturday, 12th April 2014

    Steam & Rye | Kelly Brook's cracking baps

    Because we desperately need it, London’s got a new American restaurant. It’s adopted the same kind of approach to over-elaboration as TGI Friday’s, but that’s the last time we’ll speak about that place as Steam and Rye, on Leadenhall Street, is about as far away from that lovely little chain as you can possibly get. Far away in the literal sense as well – there are no TGI’s in EC1 – the only red and white stripes around here are on Cityboys’ ties. A self-styled ‘late-night restaurant and party bar’ (whatever that is), Steam and Rye – somewhat aptly – sits within the grand old Bank of New York building, which brings me on to its first unique selling point – the room and decor. It’s distinct, but challenging to place the theme so I’ll cop out by saying that it’s kind of like stepping into a poshened-up Gangs of New York set, administered by a circus ringmaster. The real ringmasters though are co-owners Kelly Brook (say whaaat?) and bar-mental Nick House, who is responsible for the challengingly trendy Whisky Mist and Mahiki so maybe the ‘party bar’ branding might be justifiable. Brook was even there on opening night, giving it some tits and teeth...

  2. Published : Sunday, 6th April 2014

    The George | A tale of two views

    Peckish, we decided to drop into one of those lovely pubs on the way to Belsize Park Station and one that was close enough to sort us out with food and booze A.S.A.P., as well as always looking prepossessing through the window on my walks (as it did today), was The George. And in we went. Right from first impressions, The George (formly unforatnyl called the ‘Rat and Parrot’) wins. It has this light, airy demeanor, akin to a conservatory or the lighthouse from Round the Twist but the white wooden bookshelves, piles of newspaper, super-cheerful staff and elaborately stencilled blackboard afford a degree of congenial homeliness too – few places pull off this combination. Not to mention decent seating, a little big deal for me. I sternly recommend that you could get there early, bag one of the plentiful, sinkable sofas and stay there from brunch thru lunch thru diner, sipping gin and reading a book. Christ, I need to move in around here...

  3. Published : Sunday, 30th March 2014

    The Company Shed | Don'€™t forget the mayo.

    After falling off my diet in a truly spectacular way a couple Saturdays’ back, due to Elle and her incredible lemon curd cupcakes, Elle and her incredible Stilton and walnut pasta, Percy Pigs, the ShakeAway experience, an iced bun the size of a brick filled with custard and cream, not forgetting about 11 G&Ts, gimlets and one courtesy pint of Guineas ready for St. Paddy’s Day, I slept through the Formula One but of course, I was up in time for lunch. Just. We were off to the country’s most easterly-inhabited island, to a ‘restaurant’ which apparently does not serve drink or bread (but you can get salad), where you may want to to bring your own glassware and chopping board, as well as your own condiments. But they’ll provide the seafood, don’t you worry about that. The Company Shed may be ‘BYOB’ – and then some – but it can easily handle plate upon plate of the freshest, most amazing and reasonably-priced seafood, sourced from the waters off the tide-controlled Mersea Island...

  4. Published : Wednesday, 12th March 2014

    Song Que | It means ‘river country' apparently

    Well bugger me, I didn’t know if you turn left out of Liverpool Street Station and *keep* walking, past Pizza East as the road turns into Shoreditch High Street, it then flows into the renowned Kingsland Road, also known as the Vietnamese quarter. It never ceases to amaze me how close everywhere is in the East. Unless you happen to be my workmates, who live in the West. To them, places like Shoreditch and Hoxton are a million miles away, and to travel between them, you’d need some kind of mechanical horse-drawn cart. Rather than Mien Tay, where I once tried to mix the finest food this side of Ho Chi Minh with Guinness, tonight’s taste of Vietnam comes from the oft-mentioned Sông Quê, which, you’ll be pleased to know doesn’t mean “what song?” in pidgin Spanish. What it does mean is “attractively-packed no-frills noodle cafe” in Mike-speak. I could find the actual translation on Google but can’t be arsed (surely you can do that yourselves?)..

  5. Published : Tuesday, 4th March 2014

    Ember Yard | “Not the same as in Spain”

    Enter, if you will, Ember Yard, on Berwick Street in Soho. It’s practically on Oxford Street but don’t let that fool you. Coming from someone who preaches ‘Authenticity’ for a living, I like my tapas restaurants to be proper divey – maybe because subconsciously it’s in keeping with Spain’s robust economy – but if you’re after chipped walls, Estrella everywhere and bright yellow and red washed walls, then you better keep on walking. Ember Yard, with tables and tapas bars spread over the basement and ground floors, is muted, classy and a far cry from customary chaos and wonderful disorder. You’re through the door and thrown into a den of deep woods, dark lighting, classy paintings, lanky wine glasses (I’m a massive glass whore now) and perfect service. I say that because tapas servers tend to be as crazy and colourful as the restaurant and just as open to interpretation; you’ll love their bounciness and rapid fire table touches or hate the inevitable frequency of smashes and the accompanying cheers as plates and glasses go flying. At Ember Yard, it’s like the waitresses (didn’t see a bloke all night) have been drinking gin all night. I’m just assuming that gin affects everyone like it does me, making one laid back, attentive, timely and respectful, obviously. Not “way raw” (© Elle R, 2014)...

  6. Published : Saturday, 22nd February 2014

    Gourmet Burger Kitchen Earl's Court | GB-A-OK

    I have been to GBKs in Earls Court, Canary Wharf, South Kensington and Somewhere Within Walking Distance of Seven Dials, and they all look the same. Formica-adorned, upsized diners with a shelf full of condiments (like at Nando’s) and a trough of monkey nuts to keep you happy in the three seconds it takes for the food to appear. The tables are bare save for a pot of cutlery and one of those tomato-shaped ketchup bottles. A counter-slash-till is where you, the guest, get off your arse to order and pay. And they call this the Twenty-First Century. Having said that, you can download an app that, when you go to settle up, gives you free things and loyalty stuff. The burgers, made with West Country beef (yay!) always seem to be well-cooked and are different enough to provoke thought in your choice...

  7. Published : Sunday, 16th February 2014

    Belgo Noord | When the Welsh went to Belgium. Sorry, Camden

    Belgo is Belgian; a moules, frites (and steak and burger and anything else the masses eat) restaurant, where you dine in nondescript but quirky rooms, served by burly waiters dressed as monks. The restaurant at Covent Garden is subterranean, where you dine on close tables in what look like converted tube tunnels. The room at Belgo Noord (the Camden one, and the first Belgo, est. 1992) is, as you may expect, a little more edgy, a modern twist on a Belgian eating hall. Funny food words from Medieval times are engraved into the walls, whimsical shit like ‘Donkeythistle’, ‘Gag’ and ‘Pissala’. Oh, and ‘Ironmaw’. I get it, and I love randomness in any shape or form, but it seems a little bit… crap. If Belgo wanted to go totally baroque all they needed to do was engrave a few requests from Jim’ll Paint It, such as this one, which had me coughing up a lung all morning on Friday...

  8. Published : Saturday, 8th February 2014

    The Lucky Pig | Discerning Drinking Ch34: The Lucky Pig

    I found myself walking to The Lucky Pig as the sinusitis kicked in, precipitated with a does of orange – yes, ORANGE – goo coming from my nose and fighting the throng of angry commuters pouring from Goodge Street Station, on one of those London nights where it wasn’t quite raining, but if you didn’t have an umbrella you would regret it. I didn’t, and did. It was going to take a special kind of bar to right this perfect storm of wrong. The ‘Pig is hardly perfect. It’s location, in uncharted Fitzrovia, somewhere grubby, south of the BT Tower – is well off the beaten track, though we stumbled upon Bubbledogs as we made our way there. It’s on Clipstone street. Does that help? Actually, it’s below Clipstone Street, in an old cellar, accessed by a flight of those rickety, slippery staircases you see hanging off the side of Manhattan tenements...

  9. Published : Saturday, 1st February 2014

    The Rum Kitchen Carnaby | Cool Rummings

    So that was why I was impressed with the hostess at The Rum Kitchen in Soho, who spent a reasonably quiet late lunchtime gyrating at the desk to a themey little mix of Afro-Caribbean and Latino fusion. She was one more little touch of eye candy in this strangely attractive little restaurant at Kingly Court, just of Carnaby Street, the newborn sister of The Rum Kitchen in Notting Hill. The room is small, on the first floor and opens from the right posh shopping centre into what you may expect a jerk chicken-hawking, rum-serving pseudo-dive would look and feel like. If you’re not sure, then expect a generously appointed bar, stuffed with bottles and glasses which reflect the light like a boozy rainbow, an open kitchen, the smell of jerk spice that stings your nostrils, waitresses with a-symmetrical haircuts and cropped t-shirts, ramshackle furniture and a menu printed on that brown parcel paper… which is pretty much the gastronomic equivalent of a tramp stamp...

  10. Published : Sunday, 12th January 2014

    Bodean's Soho | The Year of the Pig?

    Bodean’s has a lot in common with Burger & Lobster. They’re both what I would call hipster mini-chains (though Bodean’s uses the term ‘diner deli’), a chain restaurant for people who would either a) wear a checked shirt or b) not mind queuing a bit for relatively unassuming but decent food. Both operate five restaurants in London; Bodean’s fifth is coming soon, to Balham. Both their websites piss me off – Burger & Lobster’s is one of those unnavigable art house shithouses that exists simply to tell people that there might be restaurants out and about that possibly serve burger and/or lobster, but why don’t you turn up, queue and find out for yourself?...

  11. Published : Sunday, 17th November 2013

    The Riding House Café | The Riding House Cafe

    Riding House Café (R.H.C.) is a self-styled modern all-day brasserie, and of course the day starts with breakfast. R.H.C.’s brekkie menu looks great – it’s why my office were looking at going here in the first place – an extensive selection of simple staples like porridge or pancakes, thorough to the Full English and on to classics like an Arnold Bennett omelette or Eggs Hussard. It’s all very thoughtful, like someone has taken care to consider what to offer the masses. This approach is time well spent really, as this place can, and does, get very busy, occupying a prime site on the corner of two roads heading to the most central part of Central London, in the heart of Fitzrovia. A place needs to stake its claim to remain competitive around these parts. So what does R.H.C. do to differentiate? Well, let’s start with what it does to appeal to London’s fashionable foodivores. It calls itself a ‘café’...

  12. Published : Saturday, 9th November 2013

    Meson Don Felipe | El fright night

    A couple of years’ back, we went for some food at a place called Meson Don Felipe, a tapas restaurant on The Cut, near Waterloo. It was nice, but I couldn’t remember much as it was a kind of dinner meeting to discuss our landlord, who was selling our beloved house in East India. Minds were elsewhere, and so a second visit has been well overdue. Opened in 1987, M.D.F. (as we will refer to it now) is the self-styled ‘original’ tapas bar in London, and walking in there, you certainly get the feeling that it is knocking on a bit. The walls are bright red, punctuated only with Spanish fashion prints and clunky Mitsubishi air-con units that look like they’ve come straight from Cheryl Baker’s living room...

  13. Someone I know has a date tonight, and was planning to head out in Mayfair, seeking out a bar that was nice but nothing too fancy schmansy, something quirky too. Different. Of course, they asked me for recommendations (who wouldn’t?) and in a heartbeat, I had just the place. Bruton Lane is probably the grimmest part of Mayfair, winding its way off the South-Eastern corner of Berkeley Square. If you head down there, you’ll come across Mr. Fogg’s, but keep your eyes peeled because the place is missable, with only a couple of windows, invitingly glowing away, and an immaculately tailored doorman to give you clues that something special may be here. Hell, the place isn’t even on Streetview yet...