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Blog Reviews from Matt The List

Seeking out the best places to eat, drink and be merry in London

  1. Published : Wednesday, 18 February 2015

    Knowhere Special | Matt The List: Knowhere Special

    After a spot of fish and chips (see below) and before a trip to the loo (see above), we had a second go at getting in to Knowhere Special. This was following a failed attempt on a busy Saturday evening when a brusque DJ/doorman hybrid wouldn't grant us access. Weekends are the worst. It was much more pleasant on a Wednesday, and we had the bar to ourselves to start with.

    Blink and you'll miss Knowhere Special. That little doorway inbetween The Assembly House and the sadly now shut Kentish Canteen (soon to become Joe's Southern Kitchen) - that's what you are looking for. Walk through the colourful corridor and down some stairs, and you will be rewarded with a stunning little bar, full of oddments and magical lighting...

  1. Published : Monday, 18 May 2015

    Carousel | Matt The List: Ollie Templeton at Carousel

    Last but not least on this round-up, a lovely lunch at Carousel in Marylebone - a rotating residencies restaurant & events space run by the multi-talented Templeton cousins.

    Whilst everyone has been making a fuss about Clove Club changing to an advanced bookings ticketed system of payment (popular in Chicago at Alinea, Next & co.), Carousel have been successfully doing it under the radar for a while now in a bid to avoid food wastage...

  1. Published : Monday, 18 May 2015

    Taberna do Mercado | Matt The List: Taberna do Mercado

    I've been waiting a while now to taste Nuno Mendes' cooking. I missed him at Viajante (now Lee Westcott's highly rated Typing Room), and then there was the whole Chiltern Firehouse, shall we say, phenomenon?

    Thankfully, he has just opened a relaxed Portuguese restaurant called Taberna do Mercado in Old Spitalfields Market that will hopefully remain celebrity free for the time being. Currently you can book a table for lunch from 12-2pm (lunch@tabernamercado.co.uk). Between 3-6pm you can walk in for drinks, cured meats, cheeses and other cold snacks, and dinner is from 6-9.30pm (also walk in only). They will soon be open in the mornings from 8am for coffee and a simple Portuguese breakfast...

  1. Published : Monday, 18 May 2015

    Smokehouse Chiswick | Matt The List: Smokehouse

    First up, Neil Rankin & Noble Inns have converted Chiswick's Hole In The Wall gastropub in to another meaty Smokehouse, following on from success with the concept in Islington.

    The North London branch has an enviable beer selection that the W4 outpost doesn't quite match, but there is a marvellous whisky bar out West instead with 100+ bottles from all over the world. Arrive early and splash out on a pre-dinner Yamazaki 18yo dram...

  1. Published : Monday, 27 July 2015

    Barrafina Drury Lane | Matt The List: Barrafina

    And then there's Barrafina. Not only have I not been to the Michelin-starred Soho institution, the Barrafina boys have kindly added two more to my list with outposts on Adelaide Street and Drury Lane (which opened last Friday). All three have entirely different menus full of tempting tapas plates (except for their Classic Tortilla) so I can't even claim a hat-trick in one visit! In order to stop the rot, I went along to their latest opening for a light lunch with Dad The List.

    To cut a long story short, it was excellent. The service was friendly with Eddie Hart milling around in the background, and the plates were superb. You can't really go wrong, but you shouldn't leave without getting something from their Tortillas Y Huevos section. Our Pheasant Egg & Morcilla de Burgos (flavoured with cumin) on Toast (£6.50) was outrageously tasty - perhaps the first sign of #BarrafinaBrunch? Order it...

  1. Published : Thursday, 16 July 2015

    Street Kitchen Broadgate Circle | Matt The List: Street Kitchen

    Back in March 2013 when (Matt) The List was just getting started, I discovered the magnificent Street Kitchen hatch at The Doodle Bar in Battersea. Co-owner Mark Jankel was on site, creating this vine and banging out next-level burgers and rosemary fries for a Friday night crowd.

    Mark & Jun Tanaka have since spread their wings and airstreams to Devonshire Square and Broadgate Circle (Bermuda Triangle next?), and they have just opened up their first brick-and-mortar shop in the latter.

    Their brand new Broadgate Circle hangout is essentially a sandwich shop, with“restaurant know-how lovingly crammed between two slices of bread”. Their gourmet sandwiches are mostly served by the inch (dangerous), alongside glorious salad boxes, Allpress coffee, and quality booze...

  1. The Hour Glass was refurbished and reopened as a pub and dining room a few months ago by Dave Turcan and Luke Mackay, who also own Brompton Food Market, a highly-rated food shop and deli near South Kensington station. The ground floor pub is a traditional boozer - a nice place for a pint and a bar snack, though the beer selection is behind the times. Upstairs, you'll find Chef Luke Mackay's dining room, a calm and cosy space for unfussy, upmarket pub grub.

  1. Published : Tuesday, 31 March 2015

    The Vault at Milroy's | Matt The List: The Vault

    What's this at the end of the room? Since when do bookshelves have door handles? Assuming it's not already open (which "secret entrances" so often are), give it a push, and make your way down to The Vault, a sexy subterranean "speakeasy" from Martyn "Simo" Simpson (previously at Coal Vaults).

    It gets busy down there, so I would pop your head in early to make yourselves known, before going back upstairs for a dram or two. Once you are in though, try and get yourself a seat at the bar, it's always more fun. £9.50 boozy cocktails are not too pricey given the location and the atmosphere...

  1. Published : Monday, 26 January 2015

    MASH London | Matt The List: KERB Clubhouse - Cocktails at MASH

    Dinner in the red leather booths of Danish-run MASH (Modern American Steak House) has always been out of my price range, but the bar is a different matter. Cocktails range from £9 to £12.50, and with the launch of a new American travel-inspired menu, there's never been a better time to check it out.

    There's no substitute for great staff and MASH are not short in that department, so swap the busy Soho streets for a 1920s ballroom, sit yourself down at their glamorous art deco island bar, and make some new friends. And if that isn't working out, you can always write some postcards using their innovative menu, and they'll stamp and send them for you (within reason!).

  1. Published : Friday, 23 January 2015

    Kichenette | Matt The List: Kushi's Tacos at Kitchenette

    After pre-dinner, it was time for dinner, so Ella (The Little Brown Book) and I skipped down the rise to Kitchenette's "incubator restaurant" space beneath Dock Kitchen. You may recognise the interior shots from a recent post on The Good Egg's Jerusalem Brunch on the same site. I can't get enough of the Tom Dixon design, clearly.

    Kushi's are one of several young food entrepeneurs that Kitchenette support in various ways, including these rotating residencies in W10. They'll be in town until 25th February when Zoe's Ghana Kitchen takes over...

  1. Published : Friday, 13 March 2015

    Blacklock Soho | Matt The List: Blacklock

    Despite only opening a couple of weeks ago, the queues are already forming up the stairs and down the street for this buzzy basement brothel hangout from Hawksmoor alumni.

    They aren't taking reservations at the moment, but this should be changing fairly soon. The wait in the bar flies by when there is wine on tap and £5 cocktails, including a cracking Aperol Negroni and "Grandma's Spiked Lemonade". You can even get yourself a £45 bottled cocktail for the table if you know you are in for the long haul. A short but interesting beer list struggles to compete on prices...

  1. Now for a quick look at Angela Hartnett's much lauded Northern Italian restaurant, Café Murano. I dropped in with Dad The List for an indulgent Saturday lunch - a well timed visit as Angela has just announced that a second Café Murano will be opening soon in Covent Garden. Read more on Hot Dinners.

    We started off with the delightful house bread and some serious Planeta D.O.P. Val di Mazara Extra Virgin Olive Oil (available to buy on site). If the meal got stuck on a loop right there and then, there wouldn't be many complaints. We washed this down with, well more olive oil, but also a fine Cafe Murano Spritz and a reasonably priced Analcolico 33 mocktail (raspberry, apple & lime combo)...

  1. Published : Tuesday, 3 March 2015

    Shackfuyu | Matt The List: Shackfuyu

    It was time for some late night bites in Soho, and Clerkenwell Boy's Instagram sent us in the direction of Bone Daddies' one-year "popup" Shackfuyu on Old Compton Street.

    Shackfuyu (translating to Winter Shack) has temporarily taken over the old Made In Italy site next door to Bincho, and the interiors have not changed too dramatically, with the pizza oven still in use sitting centre stage.

    The menu, set to change roughly once a month I believe, is a list of small plates followed by a central meaty number, currently 200g of USDA Beef Picanha with Kimchee Tare Butter. You're going to want to eat pretty much everything, so go hungry...

  1. Peruvian-popup-turned-permanent Senor Ceviche have recently added new dishes (and updated a few older ones) having settled in to their colourful Barranco-inspired home in the increasingly wonderful Kingly Court. It was a first visit for Matt The List, so it was all new to me!

    The fabulous Fabrizia got straight to the Pisco point as we sat down, pointing us towards their trademark sours amongst other concoctions. The cocktail list threatens to be too sweet throughout, but all four of our drinks were very well balanced, not least the Barranco Babe (1615 Pisco, Passion Fruit Purée, Vanilla Syrup, Basil, Lime Juice, Egg White & Burnt Angostura) which could have been awful in the wrong hands...

  1. Published : Tuesday, 23 June 2015

    Chick 'n' Sours Haggerston | Matt The List: Chick'N'Sours

    DJ turned Chef Carl Clarke has been winning fans all over London with his Disco Bistro Chicken Wings (Disco Wings for short) at various popups, residencies and street food events, but he's finally settled down in Haggerston.

    Chick'N'Sours is the newest member of Roy Walker's "say what you see" club that also includes Duck & Waffle, Burger & Lobster, and Meat & Shake. Smoking Goat, Dirty Bones and Smack haven't quite got the hang of it...

  1. Published : Wednesday, 10 June 2015

    Sesame | Matt The List: Sesame - Crosstown Doughnuts - Babur

    Where to start? Probably by avoiding an "Open Sesame" joke for Team Ottolenghi's new Mediterranean street food joint on Garrick Street.

    Whilst Yotam was busy opening up Ottolenghi Spitalfields, director Noam Bar launched Sesame in Covent Garden, keeping things simple with classy fast-food pittas and ready-to-go packaged salads. Expect to queue, but not for long as the delicious pittas fly out of the open kitchen. I can vouch for the meaty options, all of which proved to be more filling than they first looked. You can skip the pitta if you like and go for skewers, but you'd be a fool to forego their squishy bread. If you have to pick just one, go for the spiced lamb kebab...

  1. Published : Wednesday, 8 April 2015

    Queenswood | Matt The List: Queenswood

    Every few months, enough stacks up around me in Battersea to justify a local round-up.

    Let's start with Queenswood - a neighbourhood restaurant and bar from the same folk as Damson & Co., officially opening today in quaint Battersea Square.

    It's a stunning site, full of thoughtful interior design touches from Eloisa Cuturi including a playful drawing, spread over wall-mounted literature, a faux-Cocteau sketch, and numerous eye-catching lights...

  1. Published : Tuesday, 7 April 2015

    Ceviche Old St | Matt The List: Ceviche Old Street

    I was fortunate enough to be invited along to the launch party of Martin Morales' second Ceviche restaurant, which has just opened in Old Street on the historic former site of the Alexandra Trust Dining Rooms.

    They've paid homage to the old layout with similar signage and bustling open kitchens, but Martin Morales' love of art and music is also evident with the space doubling as a contemporary Peruvian art gallery (see some works here). Space was made for DJ sets from Mr.Scruff and Natty Bo, a sign of Pisco Discos to come featuring music from Tiger's Milk Records, Martin Morales' Peruvian record label which you may have come across in Andina's Music Room on Shoreditch High Street...

  1. Published : Monday, 20 April 2015

    Joyeux Bordel | Matt The List: Joyeux Bordel

    The Experimental Group is much more than just a clandestine Chinatown cocktail bar with a hard-to-please doorman. Since opening up the original Experimental Cocktail Club (ECC) in Paris in 2007, the group have rapidly expanded and now operate 13 sites including ECC New York, Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Paris, NY and London, Beef Club and Fish Club restaurants in Paris, and even an Experimental Beach in Ibiza.

    On top of that, last month they added Le Grand Pigalle Paris to that list - their first foray in to the hotel business. Quite by chance, I was in the City of Light at the weekend and squeezed in a visit to Le Grand Pigalle hotel bar, but that's a long story...

  1. Bleecker Burger, street food veterans and winners of London Burger Bash 2014, recently opened a burger hatch in Old Spitalfields Market. I say hatch rather than restaurant or diner, as it is literally a hole-in-the-wall kitchen with a few benches outside.

    Is it any different to them parking their food truck behind a brick wall with a window? Not really, but who cares? Now we know where to go for a fix of angry fries and Bleecker meat every day of the week (from 11.30am-9pm).

    The slightly bigger space allows them to produce some rather fine milkshakes (including Caravan coffee) which you might turn to after they stop serving craft beers at 7pm. But you are really here for a burger; an award-winning Bleeckerblack burger to be precise. Two medium-rare aged-beef patties, melted cheese, and a showstopping slab of black pudding, at your service. Sure, you could get a Bacon Cheeseburger, or the Blue Burger, both superb, but I wouldn't. What a burger...

  1. Published : Monday, 9 February 2015

    Original Sin | Matt The List: Original Sin

    For post dinner drinks, we hopped on a bus to Stoke Newington for a second look at the magnificent Original Sin. I briefly mentioned this Happiness Forgets sequel at the end of 2014 during it's quiet soft launch, but now it's time to shout about it.

    Pouring Ribbons, Billy Sunday, Attaboy, Candelaria, Weather Up, Peg & Patriot, Black Hoof, and Dead Rabbit - budge up and make some room...

  1. It takes a lot to get me to Edgware Road.

    80+ bottles of whisky, in fact.

    That's the offering at the new Whisky Lounge in Hilton London Metropole, a classy corner of the hotel stocking some of the world's finest drams...

  1. Three of the bar world's finest and funnest - is this a word? - gents have joined forces to take over Central & Co.'s basement bar (previously the quirky but empty & Co.). Andy Mill, Elliot Ball & Olly Brading are the dream team bringing their combined experience from the likes of London Cocktail Club, Covent Garden Cocktail Club and Steam and Rye to the development bar and table...

  1. Published : Friday, 24 April 2015

    Singer Tavern | Matt The List: 5CC at Singer Tavern

    First up, Barworks have opened 5cc at Singer Tavern, the fifth in a series of cocktail bars hidden inside their excellent pubs. You can find the rest at Well & Bucket, Exmouth Arms, Electricity Showrooms, and Harrild & Sons.

    The Singer Tavern itself has only just opened, making use of a Grade II listed building dating back to 1929 that was originally conceived to house the HQ of the iconic Singer Sewing Machine Company.

    Both the pub and the clandestine bar have an enormous selection of bottles at their disposal including 16 types of Amaro and Fernet, and a boat load of gins to help with their nine strong Martini list. The House Martini makes use of a gin from Barworks' own East London Liquor Company distillery & bar that also produces vodka, rum and (eventually) whisky...