Lanes of London

Lanes of London, Marriot, Park Lane, Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea: a festive take

8/10

Come one, come all, for I have glad tidings. Lanes of London, previously criticized for its ‘concept’ heavy menu, ticks all the right boxes for afternoon tea. Not just any afternoon tea either. During November and December there is an exclusive festive afternoon tea to hail in the Christmas season. Now that the weather is suitably chilly, a pot of something hot with lashings of carbohydrates beckons. I’m not sure what my excuse was before the cold weather, but I think it might take whole other blog to rationalize my excesses. Someone’s got to do it!

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‘Dining Around’ The Landmark London

Landmark London dining restuarant review

Bloggers eat, drink, and explore The Landmark London

8/10

The Landmark London is a stunning Victorian hotel in Marylebone, resplendent in red brick and vaulted architecture. As well as providing lavish guest rooms, it also features a variety of dining and drinking options. Having already sampled their afternoon tea, I’m keen to try out their one-off ‘Dining Around’ blogger event. The event is designed to give a more detailed look into the magic of The Landmark London, and the first of the three venues tonight is The Mirror Bar.

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The Manor

The Manor, Dairy, Clapham Common restaurant review

Full of potential and nowhere to go but up

6/10

The Manor is the second restaurant from the people behind The Dairy, located up the road from Clapham Common. Although it’s a tad unsporting to be writing a review based on a trip made just four days into the restaurant opening, I happen to be free and at a loose end. With that in mind, consider this as a kinder review than I would have normally written, with the hope that the rough edges will be ironed out in the coming months. The 25% off soft opening offer is now over, so bear in mind that you will now be paying full price. For everything pictured here, I would have paid around £50.

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The Balcon at Sofitel

Balcon Sofitel Hotel St james London restaurant review

Franco/Anglo cuisine just south of Piccadilly Circus

6.5/10

The Balcon is located inside the Sofitel St James, a multi-branched French hotel. The exterior building, which once belonged to Empire builders Cox & Kings Bank, is a glorious grade II listed monolith of stone. The interior design is less confident however, and The Balcon does not escape its hotel association. Nevertheless, in this arena of patterned-carpets and heavy drapes, we hold on to the prospect of receiving a good meal.

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Kouzu

kouzu Japaense Victoria Belgravia
Upmarket Japanese in Belgravia with a fun little sushi bar

8/10

London’s latest Japanese restaurant boasts a collection of some of the most experienced chefs and front of house staff. The all-Japanese entourage includes Chef Kyoichi Kai of Zuma and Kyubi of The Arts Club, and Yasuhiro Komatsu of Chisou as General Manager. Kouzu sits comfortably in its Belgravia location; occupying a sensitively restored grade II listed building. If you’re not familiar with the area, google maps will send you slightly awry on this one. I confess to spending a good 20 minutes squinting at door numbers, puddle-dodging and stopping dazed commuters to try and get there. It’s an unhappy realisation to know exactly how useless I would be without the augers of my trusted technology. Utterly bereft.

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Marcus

Marcus Wareing Berkeley knightsbridge london restaurant

Marcus Wareing at his very best in more informal settings than previously seen

10/10

Marcus Wareing is notorious for his piercing stare and formidable presence, but he’s been positively beaming of late. It’s no wonder really; 2014 has been very kind. From the relaunch of his restaurant Marcus (previously called Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley) to the hotly awaited opening of his new restaurant Tredwell’s (mixed reviews ranging from punitive condemnation to bilious acclaim) everyone’s been talking about Marcus Wareing. To add to the chatter, Marcus has taken over the lead judge role on Masterchef: The Professionals from Michel Roux Jr, a move which puts him further into the public eye. Roux’s 6 year role in the position has done wonders for his reservations book at Le Gavroche, which is harder to get into than a pair of leather pants on a hot day. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wareing is already feeling the warm buzz of new custom, and good for him too.

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Truc Vert

Truc Vert

A wintery tasting menu that combines the luxe of Mayfair with the ease of a country cafe

7/10

An eight course tasting menu is not necessarily the first thing you would think that a café/deli would serve, but then anything is possible. Our venue tonight is named after a scenic French beach and takes its style cues from the same. Cottony-white table cloths, shelves stacked with gorgeous baked things and tinned things, and rickety furnishings speak of simpler pleasures.

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Diciannove

Diciannove 19 Italian restaurant crown plaza blackfriars

Truffles, truffles, everywhere.

7/10

Diciannove is an Italian restaurant, deli and cicchetti bar located in the Crowne Plaza Hotel, and translates simply to ’19’. The menu features lovingly spun pasta, polenta and, for a limited time, truffles. To celebrate the in-season luxury good, a 3-item truffle menu is now available as an accessory to the main A La Carte.

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Brown’s Hotel

Browns Afternoon Tea Mayfair Hotel Review

Afternoon tea – ‘Tea-Tox’ for your detox

8/10

The quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea is well suited to the grand English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel. Guests are sat in one of three deliciously spacious adjoining front rooms, which are all clad in a clean biscuit-brown wood. The soaring atriums are furnished with cosseting fireplaces and snug armchairs, and a pianist adds to the easy atmosphere.

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Wild Honey

Wild Honey restaurant Mayfair

With a £49 5-course tasting menu offer, now would be the time to check out Wild Honey

7/10

It’s perplexing to think that my uni freshers week, of awkwardly gyrating first years, sticky-floored student clubs and excessive alcohol consumption, was a lengthy 7 years ago. I feel so very old. In the intervening time, whilst I was battling for a degree, for a job, and then for a better job, Wild Honey fought for and won a Michelin star. Now, you’re probably already aware of my wariness when it comes to The Stars. I’ve been to too many restaurants that have them and don’t deserve them, or vice versa. Other, more traveled bloggers will also comment on the inconsistencies from country to country, cuisine to cuisine. Hong Kong, apparently, is full of undeserving, unearned and hastily awarded stars.

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The Pudding Bar

Pudding Bar Afternoon Tea Soho Popup

Afternoon tea – sweet puds, sweeter prices

7/10

Afternoon tea is fast becoming my thing, and regular readers will know that I am rarely displeased with this century-old ceremony. I can generally forgive the odd cold scone or slightly dry sandwich if there are more things right than not. Until now, the one thing that I can’t pardon is a lack of any of the basic elements of a traditional afternoon tea. A recent review for a scone-less afternoon tea felt the brunt of my disdain, magnified by the audacity of only allowing customers to partake in it with champagne (cha-ching). This being said, I have to admit to not feeling any ire at all for the afternoon tea at Pudding Bar, even though it broke the cardinal rule.

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The Langham

The Langham Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood

Afternoon tea – a commendable offering from Wedgwood and The Langham

8/10

The charming tradition of afternoon is said to have begun sometime in the 19th century, starting out as a simple meal of tea, bread and butter. From this humble set up has sprung a more more elaborate affair of tea, cake and scones, said to have evolved within The Langham Hotel itself. To celebrate its 150th anniversary as a stunning 5 star hotel, The Langham is launching a luxury tea experience in partnership with Wedgwood, the renowned purveyor of fine ceramics since 1759.

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Moti Mahal

cookbook moti mahal london Indian

Indian and Pakistani dishes from the legendary Grand Trunk Road

7/10

I think it was the lamb brains that did it. Soft and wet looking, and rolled into swollen quenelles before us, the realisation soon blossomed. This is no ordinary Indian. Opened for almost a decade, Moti Mahal has become a firm fixture in the higher quality Indian dining bracket. It’s a lonely bracket to be in, but for the most part the food delivers. The head chef, Anirudh Arora, is no stranger to fine dining, having cooked for some of the most discerning palates in some of the most palatial settings. His conquests include the entourage of a former Indian prime minister, and the patrons of the Michelin starred Benares in London’s Berkeley Square.

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Rabbit

Rabbit Chelsea

Farm-to-plate British produce in Chelsea

7/10

Sloane Square and I have been strangers to one another – I like to eat, and old Sloaney, well he’s not much of a feeder. The most interesting thing I once happened upon was a Christmas food market in front of the Saatchi Gallery that made me wish I had a more obliging stomach and an elasticated waistband. Although one restaurant is not going to drastically address the current food draught in Chelsea, the opening of Rabbit is at least a step in the right direction.

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Jackson + Rye

Jackon and Rye

Child friendly and outside the congestion zone

5.5/10

Londoners have a seemingly endless capacity to entertain American-styled restaurants, and one such themed derivative is the Jackson & Rye chain. Launched in Soho first, the second branch has found footing in a highly amenable stretch of Chiswick High Road; on a Saturday evening it is full of heavy-eyed parents and their screaming progeny. As pretty as the themed interior is (taupe banquettas, wooden slats, checkerboard flooring) there isn’t much in the way of padding to absorb all that infantile wailing. Ah, the suburbs.

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The Palomar

Palomar Soho London

Fusion Middle Eastern that is more miss than hit

6.5/10

The creators of The Palomar have their roots in Jerusalem, and bring to Soho their version of Arab-Isreali fusion food. The restaurant itself is tiny, and entering it places you directly in front of a steaming open kitchen lined with stool seating and buzzing with activity. The immediateness of it is overwhelming, and I wouldn’t recommend coming if you like your personal space to remain personal. Squeezing past the clattering lateral kitchen puts you in a 40-cover dining area in the back, which is just as confined. A sky light pours in some much needed light, and keeps the whole affair from being suffocating.

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The Milestone

Milestone Hotel Kensington Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea – a good one for young families

6/10

The Milestone is a boutique hotel located in a stunning 19th century building opposite Hyde Park, and offers a quintessentially English afternoon tea. The grade II listed building has recently undergone a sensitive restoration, using stringent standards set by The English Heritage. Its exterior is utterly delicious with a fire-brick red façade and wrought iron detailing, and the interiors are formed of small rooms leading into ante-rooms in a labyrinthine fashion.

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The Palm Court (Park Lane Hotel)

Palm Court at Park Lane Hotel

Limited edition beer and gin based cocktails

7/10

The Palm Court is the central dining area in The Park Lane Hotel, and is replete with classic design features. The aesthetic leans heavily towards the art deco twenties, with a beautiful glass ceiling and touches of gold leaf. A harpist dutifully tickles the strings, and the pacified tone would suit an older generation suitably well. With such photogenic attributes, its no surprise that the Palm Court has been featured in television shows and movies including Poirot and The Golden Compass. It’s a bit like Maggie Smiths character in Downton Abbey – an eccentric personality from a bygone era clutching on to her traditions in as graceful a manner as possible. I do have to say that if you were to turn the lights up a little, you might see the wear and tear that decades of use have imparted.

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Cake Boy

Cake Boy afternoon tea

Can you call it an Afternoon Tea without scones?

6/10

Cake Boy is the London Café/Cookery school of Eric Lanlard, a celebrity pastry chef with a number of books and television show appearances under his belt. Located on the ground floor of a block of apartments in Battersea, Cake Boy is not the easiest venue to get to. Tubes tend to circumvent it so you’ll need to turn to a car, bus or (shudder) overground to get there. With the promise of free food, I successfully solicit the services of a certain car-rich colleague to make the trip.

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Kettners

Kettner's afternoon tea soho london

Afternoon tea: an affordable introduction to a delicious tradition

7/10

Established in 1867 and created from four Georgian townhouses, Kettners has a certain old school charm about it. Its high walls and elegant sash windows create a spacious set of downstairs dining areas, whilst upstairs is partitioned into private dining rooms. Gunmetal grey velvet upholstery, bronzed mirrors and delicate furnishings dress the interiors and provide a comfortable backdrop for a leisurely afternoon tea.

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Four to Eight

Four to Eight

Simply put: I like it a lot

8/10

Italian food is said to be one of the simplest with between four to eight ingredients per dish- thus the premise of our restaurant tonight. Wrought from the efforts of two Italian brothers, Gino and Leo, the restaurant Four to Eight sits on the site of their previous sandwich shop. This new venture is their first foray into serious dining, and they’re doing a really fabulous job of it. They’re both in the restaurant knee deep in the action, Gino flitting between bar and kitchen scrutinising each plate before it is served whilst Leo circles around the room making sure everyone is happy. I adore the passion and commitment to the cause and with so much effort clearly being put in, night after night, it’s not a surprise how great things are.

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Core

Core

Think TGIFs, except with a clubbier vibe 

5/10

Core is a city-based venue with a clubby kind of feel, and is cut from the same cloth as the likes of Tiger Tiger, TGIFs and Hard Rock Cafe. Its interior is quirky and boasts some fun features and a lot of seating, compensating perhaps for the lack of imagination when it comes to the food.

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Basement Sate

Basement Sate

How not to work a trend

2/10

The humble pudding is going through something of a revival in London. Pollen Street Social have their own exclusive dessert bar and there is also a new Pudding Bar in Soho. So far, so sweet. The concept of the speakeasy has also been recharged over the last few years, with the likes of my personal favourite, Nightjar. Basement Sate is a contender in a long list of imitations of a more glamourous era, centred on desserts and cocktails – unfortunately for us, it falls far short of the mark. Music blaring onto the street from an unmarked, wide-open door does not a speakeasy make – must try harder.

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The Rosebery at Mandarin Oriental

The Rosebery at Mandarin Oriental Afternoon Tea, Knightsbridge, London

Afternoon tea: glossy, vibrant and utterly without fault

9/10

The Rosebery recently opened in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge, offering the newest afternoon tea yet. The venue is sprightly and fresh, situated in a set of airy Victorian rooms. Soaring windows offer views down on to Brompton road, whilst also serving to fill the space with delicious light. White walls reach high into a ceiling decorated with elaborate cornicing and flourishing medallions, but the features are neither stuffy nor overbearing. The launch of the Rosebery at the Mandarin Oriental has a particular symmetry, being that the space was once a tea room in the 1920s frequented by the most distinguished personas of the time, including Lord Rosebery. Against this rich tapestry is a luxe and modern interior full of contemporary pieces and plush seating.

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Villandry

Villandry

Really quite rubbish

4/10

The only reason I’m at Villandry tonight is because I’ve been sent a £50 voucher from the food fairies at Zomato. There are two branches of this brasserie-styled restaurant in London, and the one just south of Piccadilly Circus is our venue tonight. Truth be told, I haven’t really heard much at all about Villandry and I’m guessing that you haven’t either. All you really need to know is that it’s a bit crap, bar a few things – the bread, the building, and the service. The bread first – the foccacia is dotted with roasted tomatoes and sea salt, and the brown loaf has a delectable malty-moodiness to it. Our smiley waiters parade around with baskets full of it; with the benefit of hindsight comes the knowledge that I should have maxed out on the worthier carbs.

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Cigalon

Cigalon restaurant london

All the rustic charm of a small-town, without ever having to leave London

8/10

Provincial villages can be remarkable hubs of food and produce, the result of cement-free and unpolluted landscapes. The rustic mess of small-town cuisine can be had in many guises around London; one of the most honest coming from the kitchens of Cigalon. This Holborn based restaurant is rich in rural eccentricity, decorated with spindly olive trees, winding rattan and velvet seating. The comfort and space of the countryside is also replicated; the bosom of a generously proportioned booth provides both privacy and a sense of general wellbeing. From these pillowed confines, prepare to enjoy the splendour of food and wine from the southern belly of France.

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Oscar Wilde Bar at Hotel Café Royal

Afternoon tea at Oscar Wilde Bar Hotel Cafe Royal, London

Afternoon tea; the best yet, apart from the setting

8/10

Café Royal has an abundance of history, accumulated from its inception in 1865 to its refurbishment and rebirth as a 5* London Hotel. The premium location of the premises has remained the same, sat in the snug curve of Regents Street between Piccadilly and Oxford Circus. Apart the gold lettering on a maroon flag, there is no indication of the grandeur that lies within. The Oscar Wilde Bar (previously known as The Grill Room) has been painstakingly restored to its original Louis XVI detailing, and named after one of its many celebrity patrons. Throughout the years, Café Royal has played host to the musings of all manner of people, from Oscar Wilde to Lord Alfred Douglas, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, to name but a few.

The Oscar Wilde Bar is a room covered in a diverting amount of gilded filigree. Every centimetre of it is festooned in with gold-leafed latticing that would not look out of place at Versailles. The ceiling boasts gilt flourishes and sepia frescos of cherubs and naked ladies, the decadence concentrated further with mirrors and marble pilasters. You can’t deny the opulence of it, and there is something in its indulgent nature that suites an afternoon tea which starts at £42 and rises to £85 per person with a glass of Dom Pérignon.

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Ohlala Macaron & Martini Masterclass

Ohlala macaron martini masterclass

Macarons & martini’s, what could be better?

7/10

Although I don’t usually blog about events, the prospect of attending Ohlala’s Macaron and Martini Masterclass sounds so delicious that I’ve made an exception. Ohlala is a travelling event, and is held in various venues across London. The venue this afternoon is at the Antoni & Alison boutique shop, or more specifically in the café above the shop called ‘Ye Olde Worlde Super Modern Tearoom’.

The format of the event is simple: first, we are shown how to make the French macaron mixture. This includes instructions on how to handle the ingredients (aging the egg whites, pulverising the ground almonds further with icing sugar, using gel/powder dyes instead of liquid), as well as a demonstration on making the macaron mix. Although there are two different macaron recipes, we are taught the simpler one which uses French meringue instead of Italian meringue. There is some debate as to which is better, but it is widely accepted that Italian meringue macarons are the superior species both in taste and texture. With this in mind, you should be aware that this event does not produce Pierre Hermé or Ladurée grade macarons. In fact, although most of the macaron here have good texture there are some which are of a markedly lesser quality.

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Coya

Coya

A new set lunch menu takes the sting out of this Mayfair venue

7/10

Until recently you really needed to possess an expense account, a doting boss, or a generous partner to seriously consider dining at Coya. You’d have to accept that a meal here would soak up rather a lot of your hard-earned dinero, with mains priced in excess of £25 each. Of course, this is not an uncommon affliction when dining in Mayfair, a spot of concentrated foreign wealth which manifests most often as crisp Hermes scarves wafting with Arabian Oud. The new launch of a set lunch menu helps to take the sting out of the experience; choose to go for either 3 or 4 courses at £26.50 and £29.50 respectively. Although there is an absence of premium produce, the better value for money is still something to be celebrated.

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