Brunch – eggs, waffles, fry-ups, croissants and more
Q Grill is a spacious Southern American themed restaurant located just north of the canal and Camden lock. As tempting as it is to gorge on the grilled ribs and Maryland fried chicken today, the purpose of this visit is to test out the recently launched breakfast/brunch.
The brunch menu is concise and features eggs in all the usual ways plus a fry up, tarted up under the ministrations of a Josper grill. As a nod to the soul food Americana theme there are also waffles, delightfully fresh and as light as a murmur, topped with a single egg (off-menu item, usually served with bacon) and the option of adding maple syrup. Both the savoury and sweet halves of this are preposterously good, only perhaps next time request two eggs. Let’s not stint on the yolk, folks.
Afternoon tea in Marylebone’s most luxurious spot
If there is anything more civilised or ladylike than afternoon tea, I’ve yet to experience it. This most attractive of English customs is done fabulously at The Landmark London, one of our city’s great Victorian railway hotels. Its red brick and gothic-arched frontage is glorious to see, but the hotels best asset is located inside. Through the short reception and up a cool marble staircase is located The Winter Garden, a soaring 8-story atrium surrounded by the hotel itself. Its endless glass roof floods the space in light, perfect for a little camera action.
Afternoon tea is taken in The Winter Garden, where for £40 you can have the traditional afternoon tea, for £42 the chocolate afternoon tea, and for £45 and upwards an additional glass of Pierre Nicolas Brut champagne. Sandwiches are brought out first, crustless and freshly made. Betwixt the elegant fingers of bread are fillings of egg mayonnaise and mustard cress, chicken with tarragon crème fraiche, oak smoked salmon and cucumber and butter. Although more are offered, space must be left for scones – huge puffs with shiny egg-glazed tops. They are soft, springy and delightfully toothsome, and can be had with clotted cream, strawberry jam, lemon curd or chocolate ganache. Scones on offer include apple and raisin or chocolate chip and fruit peel. Both kinds are perfectly splendid and, although more are offered, we still we have dessert to come.
A full on sensory delight
Joel Robuchon is not a household name in Britain, and it is only recently that he has cropped up on my radar. His London restaurant, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, is also relatively unchartered. Opened in 2006, there are a few reviews from around then but no significant exposure since. It’s a shame that it is not better known, as my experience tonight has been grand.
Once hailed as the world’s pinnacle of culinary mastery, Robuchon has an impressive worldwide collective of restaurants. For those who put anything by Michelin stars, Robuchon has amassed over 2 dozen. Until recently, the London L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon possessed two stars. Robuchon’s L’Atelier chain of restaurants are a worldwide affair, and each one is said to have the same concept; a French spin on the combination of modern European food with Japanese influences. In most peoples hands, this would be a mess of thing. In Robuchon’s, it shines.
Just doing my civic duty. Now bring me my lamb and sage salami!
So I wrote a little review for Pizza Pilgrims a few weeks ago which was not as positive as the owners, Thom and James Elliot, might have hoped for. After reading the review, I was invited back to re-review and to meet one half of the terrible two, Thom.
The first branch of Pizza Pilgrims opened in Soho a few years ago, followed by a second in Kingly Court, opened a couple of months ago. Although my original review for the Kingly Court branch was just weeks into it having been open, the soft launch period was over and the menu full price; a time when standards are meant to be upheld.
Its the simple things, after all
Gails Kitchen is the first restaurant from the partners behind Gails Bakery, a shop with 16 branches across London. The focal points of both are the bread ovens, central to the brand, where fluffy-sticky balls of dough go in and steam-puffs of bread emerge.
A range of these are sliced and brought to our table, freshly made and served with a glug of olive oil. Enjoy with herby baked olives and gorgeously crisp polenta chips. As seductive as a big bowl of warm bread is, nibble wisely: there is much to be had here, all of it fabulous.
Exotically treated cocktails. Competently cooked food. Tick, tick.
East London’s historical links with the silk industry informs one half of this cocktail bars name, the second part signifying the alcohol connection. Happily, the name fits; the operation at Silk and Grain is as smooth as any sixteenth century Huguenot fabric, as are the beverages.
Silk and Grain operates as a cocktail bar with a pronounced angle. The philosophy here is simply to take the classics and jazz them up with various ageing techniques. As well as ageing in glass bottles and leather pouches, charred oak barrels are also used to imbibe the alcoholic concoctions with tones of vanilla, caramel and spice. A sharper effect is said to be had from the metal ageing process, where flasks are used to give the drinks a notable edge.
Steak gets dirty
Although Moo Grill occupies four branches across London, it’s still difficult to imagine that any are as small or as insalubriously placed as the Cobb Street venue. Within sight of the expensive, expansive and exuberant city skyscrapers lies the plainer streets of Aldgate. Juxtaposed under the shadow of the Gherkin is this murkier patch of London; an interesting choice of environ for a confident Argentinian restaurant. With under a dozen tables, this is one pocket-sized offering from owner Jose, the man behind the moo.
Its primary function is as a steakhouse, the kitchen kitted out with a parillada grill – ripe for firing up a few cuts of meat. The menu allows for fillet, flank, ribeye and sirloin, and although prices are quoted per 100g the concept of the sharing steak seems unfamiliar here. A request of 700g ribeye to share is brought out as individual steaks, presumably the best two to make up the ordered amount. They are prepared reasonably well, but could be improved with a more even cook. The thick ends are a red-rare hue, whilst the thinner sections cooked to medium.
Vietnamese with a modern twist
House of Ho is a modern Vietnamese restaurant, taking inspiration from a worldwide community of food. London is, of course, the perfect recipient for this integrated approach to cuisine, and there aren’t may places more deviant than Soho.
South America is the first casualty for the fusion cause, strung into the mix with a seabass, scallop and prawn ceviche. Actually, its done pretty well here. The fish is coated in coconut milk and mangosteen, its vibrancy humming with the aromatic kick of white truffle. A return to more traditional Vietnamese is seen with slippery Pho Cuon noodle rolls, containing a single bite of crispy sea bass, and translucent summer rolls, the pink blush of prawn winking from within. Dipping sauces invigorate these morsels, their liquid depths balancing vinegar, chilli, sugar and lime.
Afternoon tea: Mayfair for mums
The Atheneum Hotel won the coveted Best Afternoon Tea award in 2012 by The Tea Guild. The tea is served in 3 sittings in the Garden Lounge, a long sub-ground level room. Heavy drapery helps to create partitions between the velvet upholstered seating and taupe furnishings. Out of the windows are plants, pressed densely in the metre-wide gap between the glass and exterior wall of the premises. These ‘hanging gardens’ are said to be made up of hundreds of different species, and are integral to the design of the hotel.
A tea menu shows off a dozen or so different varieties of the loose leaves, the soporific camomile works wonders at relaxing. Off menu items like a cardomom-rich masala chai can also be requested. Enjoy these with a range of finger sandwiches, including roasted pepper humus and cucumber. The base price for afternoon tea is £34.50, rising to £42.50 for an additional glass of Lanson Black Label Champagne and £49 for Lanson Rose Champagne.
Dinner and a show, whats not to like?
Film & Fizz is a dinner and movie experience, offered by One Aldwych in partnership with Lallier Champagne. For £49.50 enjoy a movie screening in the 5-star hotels private 30-seat cinema, followed by a 3 course meal in either of the hotel restaurants. I’ll just say now, conventional cinemas are hereby ruined for me.
Along with a crisp glass of Champagne Lallier Grand Cru Grande Réserve Brut, the deal also includes limitless sweet and salty popcorn. Sink into the spacious royal blue seats with a measure of fizz and relax through one of the most enjoyable cinema experiences of this city. The film tonight is ‘Her’. Verdict: actually it’s quite good – tender and sensitive throughout, funny in places. I admit to tearing up a little at the end, and feeling a renewed sense of hope when it comes to dating. This doesn’t leave the blog.