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18 April 2014

Restaurants & Bars

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Blog Reviews from Brunch etc.

(menu)


  1. I'd been dying to go to Dinner since it first opened, and finally got my wish when my boyfriend took me there for an anniversary meal a couple of weeks ago. Situated in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, the decor was elegant and understated, with none of the flamboyance I would have expected from Heston Blumenthal. The general vibe was more suit-and-tie business dinner than Mad Hatter's tea party, but it was very chic nonetheless...

  2. Published : Friday, 27th September 2013

    Brasserie Zédel | Pre-theatre meal at Brasserie Zedel

    A few weeks ago my friend and I enjoyed a sophisticated pre-theatre dinner at Brasserie Zedel in Soho. The first appearances of this popular French restaurant are deceptive - entering at street level you find yourself in what seems to be little more than a laid-back bistro. Head downstairs, however, and you will discover a glamourous ball room, decked out in fabulous art deco style (complete with marble pillars and over the top gold detailing). The menu features a good selection of classic French dishes, with everything from frogs legs to beef Bourguignon, and is very reasonably priced given the lavish surroundings and central location (you can get a main course for under £10, or 3 courses for £11.75 on the prix fixe menu)...

  3. First - Tonkotsu, the much-acclaimed ramen joint in Soho. Having spent the past few months on Urbanspoon's "Talk of the Town" list, I was eager to see what the fuss was all about, so I went along with a couple of friends for a casual Tuesday-night meal. The restaurant was relaxed and stylish, and the food - huge bowls of warming, ramen noodle soup, with rich, umami stock and tasty chunks of melt-in-the-mouth pork belly - was undeniably very good. However, I didn't really get the hype: everything was tasty, but it was nothing exceptional, and it wasn't miles above what you could get at somewhere like Wagamama...

  4. Published : Wednesday, 7th August 2013

    Coya | Amazing Peruvian cuisine at Coya

    Coya is a cool new Peruvian joint situated on Piccadilly, right next to Green Park. It has a trendy bar where you can sample the excellent selection of cocktails (try the pisco sours, if you want something really authentic) and Latin American liquors, or you can head straight to the restaurant proper for a divine collection of modern Peruvian dishes. Before I start, let me just say - these photos do not do justice to our meal, which featured some of the best Latin American food I've had (in London, or - to be honest - anywhere)...

  5. Published : Saturday, 20th July 2013

    John Salt | John Salt

    I've been hearing a lot about John Salt in recent months, and living close by in Angel, I was keen to check it out. Unfortunately, by the time I got round to eating there, Ben Spalding - the chef who made John Salt famous with his innovative12-course tasting menus - had already moved on, and while the a la carte menu still looked very appetising, I was concerned as to whether the food would be as good as originally reported. I needn't have worried: our meal there - a casual date night, after a few sunny post-work drinks - was excellent. The food was delicious, the decor was cool, and the prices were pretty reasonable too...

  6. Published : Saturday, 29th June 2013

    Coco di Mama | Delicious baked eggs at Coco di Mama

    Coco di Mama is a new chain of Italian cafes which have been popping up all over London. Serving up a great selection of pastas at lunchtime, as well as some excellent Italian-style coffee, they are also the source of my new favourite breakfast treat. The baked eggs florentine is simply incredible...

  7. Published : Monday, 10th June 2013

    Morito | Drinks and tapas at Morito

    I visited Morito once before (for a special seafood and sherry tasting event last year), but - despite numerous trips to sister restaurant Moro - I never managed to return to try the standard menu. I finally got my chance a couple of weeks ago, at a relaxed Monday night dinner with my boyfriend and his lovely cousin. Showing up at 7pm, we had no problem getting a table for three, making Morito a great alternative to Moro if you haven't had the chance to book weeks in advance! (although it's still pretty busy later in the week)...

  8. Published : Tuesday, 4th June 2013

    Pho Oxford Circus | Pho at...Pho

    Working near Liverpool Street puts me in walking distance of Spitalfields Market and a variety of great lunch spots. A couple of weeks my boss and I wandered over to Pho - a family run chain specialising in Vietnamese street food - for a quick sit-down lunch...

  9. Primrose Hill is one of my favourite parts of London. In addition to the beautiful houses, fashionable boutiques and expansive green spaces for which it is famed, it also boasts a number of excellent gastropubs - perfect for a hearty meal after a stroll through the park or along nearby Regent's Canal. So when my boyfriend and I were invited to check out The Princess of Wales last week, we jumped at the chance...

  10. Published : Wednesday, 15th May 2013

    Al Boccondi’ Vino | A family celebration at Al Boccon di

    A few weeks ago my family got together at Al Boccon di'vino in Richmond to celebrate my step-grandmother's 80th birthday. A cosy, traditionally-decorated Italian bistro, Al Boccon di'vino is well-known for its decadent multi-course Venetian feasts, and our 20-strong party spent the best part of an afternoon gorging on a never-ending stream of delicious Italian dishes...

  11. Published : Tuesday, 7th May 2013

    Now | Now Street Food: Ping Pong, but quicker

    I've always been a fan of Ping Pong, but mealtimes there have tended to overrun - not ideal for a weekday lunch. So I was pleased to discover Now, the new "fast food" addition to the Ping Pong family, just around the corner...

  12. Opulently decorated with gold leaf and elaborate detailing, the restaurant was already buzzing when we arrived, filled with people winding down after a long week at work over cocktails and mezze. We relaxed at the bar for a while with a couple of drinks - the Gold-digger for me (like the much-loved Pornstar Martini, this contains fresh passion fruit juice and vanilla vodka, and comes with a shot of champagne on the side - lovely!) and a Manhattan on the rocks for my boyfriend...

  13. Yet another leaving lunch, this time in the fancy environs of the Royal Exchange. Upstairs from the beautiful main hall, Sauterelle has a set lunch menu with two courses for £20 (or three for £23.50). Our meal took a bit longer than expected - almost an hour and a half - but the location was lovely (with arched windows looking out onto the main hall) and the food was good too...

  14. Published : Thursday, 11th April 2013

    Taberna Etrusca | Taberna Etrusca

    To start, we were given a choice between minestrone soup, Insalata Caprese (aka buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad), or pan-fried chicken livers with shallots, pancetta and mushrooms. Aside from me, everyone went for the salad, which looked very good: plump slices of mozzarella atop a fan of sliced tomato, all drizzled with concentric rings of tasty vinaigrette...

  15. The Riding House Cafe sports a style I can only describe as gentlemen's club chic, all distressed leather and dark wooden panelling - but with huge windows letting in plenty of light the overall effect is far from dreary, and it's a lovely place to catch up over a meal or drinks...

  16. Published : Tuesday, 26th March 2013

    Kaffeine | Coffee at Kaffeine

    An Antipodean coffeeshop, in the spirit of Workshop Coffee Co, Kaffeine serves up excellent coffee alongside a tempting weekly-changing menu of light bites and tasty baked treats (tragically there were no Afghan biscuits on the day of my visit, but if you ever get a chance to try them, do - these rich crumbly chocolate cookies are one of my all-time favourites!)...

  17. Published : Wednesday, 20th March 2013

    Haz St Paul's | Girly lunch at Haz

    There are a few good set lunch menus on offer - including an impressive selection of mixed mezze for just £9.95 - but we were all in the mood for something a bit heartier. Instead we went A La Carte, with four of us ordering dishes from the Charcoal Grill menu (which come with rice and vegetables) and one from the vegetarian menu...

  18. Situated on a side-street just across from Smithfields meat market, the restaurant has a great atmosphere - dimly lit, but not overly so, with a nice bar and a cosy dining area. We started off with drinks at the bar, before moving to a snug table in the corner of the restaurant. Polpo has a fantastic menu - everything is designed to be shared (my favourite way of eating)...

  19. Published : Friday, 15th March 2013

    Henry’s Café Bar | Henry

    Housed in a converted warehouse overlooking West India Quay - an oasis of calm amid the high-rise chaos of nearby Canary Wharf - Henry's has a fantastic waterside location. Sadly, the current weather conditions meant that we were unable to take advantage of the expansive outdoor seating area, but I'm guessing this is incredibly popular in the Summer months...

  20. Published : Thursday, 28th February 2013

    New Street Grill | Oh-so-tasty steaks at the New Street Grill

    Last week, a craving for red meat led my boyfriend and I to New Street Grill for an impromptu Monday night meal. Just off Devonshire Square, this stylish restaurant has a sophisticated-yet-intimate vibe; and with smartly dressed French waiters, exemplary service, and a very impressive wine list, it's a bit more special than your usual steak joint...

  21. Published : Monday, 25th February 2013

    Morgan M | Seasonal tasting menu at Morgan M

    For a pre-Valentine's day treat, my boyfriend and I headed to Morgan M, just off Smithfields Market. I've wanted to check out their seasonal tasting menu for a while, and I wasn't disappointed: we had a lovely meal which - while arguably slightly less innovative than Club Gascon - was equally delicious. The six course tasting menu (£52) is unusual in that it gives you a lot of choice, making it more about the customer and their preferences than the "no-substitution" approach favoured by other restaurants, and with a focus on top-quality ingredients and flawless execution (rather than off-the-wall flavour combinations), fussy eaters will fare better here than most places. This meant that, for once, I could go for the meat-eaters menu without fear of being accosted with frogs legs, foie gras, offal, or other 'scary' ingredients...

  22. Published : Saturday, 23rd February 2013

    Osteria Dell'Arte | A laid-back brunch at Osteria Dell

    Bright and airy inside, with high ceilings, a glass roof, and - impressively - a large tree, you can almost imagine you're eating outside (although without the icy temperatures and intermittent drizzle of a British winter). White walls and colourful arty accents complete the fresh, zesty vibe. The breakfast menu - despite the Italian make-over - offers a fairly classic selection of brunch-time favourites, from smoked salmon scrambled eggs to omelette. I went for the All'Inglese (aka the full English), while my friend opted for the Uovo Benedict...

  23. Published : Wednesday, 20th February 2013

    Santore | Tasty pizza at Santore, Exmouth Market

    Another gem on Exmouth Market, Santore serves up some of the best pizza around. I went there for lunch the other week with my boyfriend and his mum, and (as on previous visits) was impressed by the fantastic food, friendly service, and very reasonable prices*. The pizzas are pretty large, so while my boyfriend went solo with a napoletana, Jane and I decided to split a quattro stagioni pizza and the melanzane parmiagana (from the starter menu)...

  24. Published : Thursday, 14th February 2013

    Kurumaya | Kurumaya - delicious Japanese in the City

    Another week, another lunch - this time Japanese with some of the girls from the office. We were in the mood for something a bit more exciting than Itsu or Wasabi, so we headed to Kurumaya on Watling Street for some upmarket Japanese cuisine. The basement restaurant has a very comprehensive menu - offering everything from enormous 8-person sushi platters to bento boxes, teppanyaki and assorted noodle dishes - and the fact that you have to take your shoes off adds to the authenticity of the Japanese dining experience!...

  25. Published : Friday, 8th February 2013

    Zizzi One New Change | Lunch at Zizzi

    The other Friday I took a long lunch break and went to Zizzi with a couple of girls from my office. Zizzi may be a chain, but the food is lovely, and the atmosphere at this particular restaurant is surprisingly relaxed given its location inside the sometimes-hectic One New Change shopping centre. Zizzi has a typically Italian menu of delicious pasta dishes and decadent pizzas, but it also offers a decent selection of healthier options. My friend and I both decided to try the Skinny Rustica pizzas from the guilt-free range. My Bufala pizza (topped with buffalo mozarella, sun-blushed tomatoes, basil and rocket) was delicious, and my friend's Primavera (with aubergine, olives, peppers, artichoke and goat's cheese) looked pretty good too! Both had lovely doughy bases, delicious tomato passata and just enough cheese, and - stylishly presented on wooden boards alongside a mound of mixed salad - they certainly didn't leave us feeling deprived...

  26. Published : Wednesday, 30th January 2013

    The Breakfast Club Soho | Brunch at the Breakfast Club, Soho

    The other weekend some friends and I decided to fight off the January blues with a nice girly brunch at the Breakfast Club in Soho. While I've been to the Hoxton branch more times than I can count, and have checked out the diminuitive Angel cafe too, this was my first visit to the flag-ship venue in Soho and I was interested to see what it would be like. Upon arrival, the four of us were (somewhat unsurprisingly) greeted with a long, long queue. We stood in the cold, breath steaming, and wondered whether we should maybe try somewhere else. In the end, we stayed, and while it did take almost 45 minutes to get to the front - the venue is small and the line didn't move particularly quickly - we were happy enough catching up and anticipating what we were going to have for brunch. The free shots of hot chocolate (brought out on a tray by a lovely waiter) definitely sweetened the wait too!...

  27. Published : Saturday, 26th January 2013

    Gelupo | Ice cream on a snowy day at Gelupo

    After chatting with the friendly girl behind the counter, I settled on a small cup of Bonnet gelato as the perfect post-meal treat. While this was not the most visually appealing ice-cream (as my boyfriend charmingly pointed out!) it was beautifully smooth, and boasted an incredible depth of flavour - a complex, multi-layered blend of coffee, chocolate, caramel, rum, amaretti biscuit and vanilla. Delicious. And on the Gelupo website they attribute the amped up flavours of their gelato to a lower-than-average fat content...which means it's healthier than usual too!...

  28. Despite being sorely tempted by the fish and chips (the next table seemed to be enjoying theirs) we decided to stick to our original plan and go for the roast. My brother opted for the slow-roast leg of lamb, while I went for the half-chicken with autumn vegetables, stuffing, roast potatoes, and bread sauce. It was good, solid fare, nothing exceptional, but tasty nonetheless (I was too busy eating to take a photo of my food, which is always a good sign!). My half chicken was succulent and moist, and paired well with the creamy bread sauce and roasted autumn vegetables, while a fairly average disk of stuffing and unexciting cubes of roast potato were saved by the incredible gravy - deep brown and delectably savoury, it made everything it touched taste amazing. While it wasn't the best roast I've had in London (nothing compared to The Albion, say), it was still very enjoyable and pretty good value too...

  29. Published : Tuesday, 15th January 2013

    Monmouth Coffee | The Monmouth Coffee Company - oh my!

    I love a good cup of coffee, and since moving to London I've become increasingly snobby about the quality of my caffeine fix. With the abundance of fantastic coffee shops across the capital (Workshop Coffee Co and Caravan are two of my favourites), Starbucks just can't compete anymore, and I'm constantly on the lookout for new and better things. One place I've been meaning to try forever is the Monmouth Coffee Company, so when I passed through Seven Dials this weekend I took my chance, and dragged my friend inside to check it out...

  30. Published : Wednesday, 9th January 2013

    202 | Brunch in Notting Hill: 202

    Everyone always raves about Notting Hill, but I've never really understood its appeal: from the chaos and crowds of Notting Hill Carnival (someone invariably gets their phone nicked and the tube ride home is a nightmare...) to the tourist trap that is Portobello Market, it's always failed to live up to my expectations. However, last weekend, venturing west-ways to meet a friend for brunch, I saw a side to Notting Hill which caused me to reconsider. My cycle there (passing through St James' Park, Green Park, and Hyde Park) was beautiful even in the January drizzle, and our walk from Notting Hill Gate to the cafe - passing from quiet mansion-lined streets to the fashionable boutiques and stylish eateries of Westbourne Grove - was lovely...

  31. Published : Monday, 31st December 2012

    Bocca di Lupo | An amazing birthday meal at Bocca di Lupo

    A friend from work recommended Bocca di Lupo to me over a year ago, but for some reason I never got around to trying it out. When I finally ended up going there for my birthday meal a few weeks back, I was treated to one of the best meals I've had in London. Now I'm already planning my next visit (and kicking myself for not going there sooner), and for anyone who hasn't been, all I can say is...GO!...

  32. Published : Friday, 21st December 2012

    Moro | Moro - it's a little bit Moorish

    I can't say enough good things about Moro: The cookbooks! The lunch-time stall on Exmouth Market! Sister restaurant Morito! And then there's the place itself. With a monthly-changing menu of delicious Moorish cuisine (think charcoal grilled fish and meat dishes, paired with classic Mediterranean ingredients - chickpeas, aubergine, pomegranate and garlic all feature heavily), Moro is hands-down one of the best restaurants in North London. I visited with my mum and brother last week and was once again impressed with just how good the food there is - beautiful ingredients, perfect preparation and fantastic flavour combinations coming together in some truly memorable dishes...

  33. Published : Tuesday, 18th December 2012

    Kopapa | More Kopapa (cocktail time!)

    I've reviewed Kopapa before, but I came back the other week for some pre-Christmas party drinks (because that's always a good idea...) and the food and cocktails were so great that I feel obliged to spread the word again! In addition to copious amounts of wine, and a few choice beverages from the very festive cocktail list (which features such delights as Christmas pudding martinis and hot buttered rum shots ), we sensibly ordered a few small plates to share...

  34. Published : Monday, 10th December 2012

    Ceviche | Ceviche @ FEAST

    I've heard a lot of good things about Ceviche (the hot new Peruvian restaurant which opened in Soho earlier this year), so I was pretty excited to see their name on the list of restaurants at last weekend's FEAST event. The FEAST venue - a derelict Royal Mail building in Angel - was incredibly atmospheric: packed with food stalls (and with Christmas trees and lanterns lending a festive vibe), the place was thronged with happy foodies, wrapped up tight against the cold and tucking into steaming plates of everything from mac and cheese to cassoulet...

  35. Published : Friday, 30th November 2012

    Bluebird Café | Brunch at the Bluebird Cafe

    One of my friends recently made the move from East to West, giving me a good excuse to tear myself from my NE London comfort zone and head to Chelsea to try something new. On this occasion, we decided to go to the cafe at Bluebird. In addition to the cafe, this stylish establishment boasts a restaurant, bar, courtyard, bakery, and shop - everything you could possibly need wrapped up into one handy package!...