Dysart

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Intuitive fine dining, minus the ponceyness

9/10

You seldom get the things you want unless you specifically ask for them – that’s what I’ve come to realize anyway. There’s no point relying on someone else to read your mind and to figure out what will make you happy; it will only end in disappointment, and why waste time on that? There’s no doubt that coyness and mystery have their uses, but directness and honesty often save a bit of heartache. Even though I’ve found that’s true most of the time,  there are a few instances where you can rely on someone else to take care of your own happiness – as exemplified in The Dysart.

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Murakami

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The time of your life (for now)

7/10

I don’t understand why some people yearn to back at high school, or secondary school, or uni, or whatever. I just don’t get it. I, for one, was broke, bullied and spotty, and remained broke at least until after university. I dated idiots and wore flares, and the height of sophistication was going to a TGIF and ordering the brightest, bluest mocktail. I guess I wasn’t the coolest teenager, but university wasn’t much better – a brain-fuck of a degree lubricated with the cheapest food and drink. As I am clearly missing the particular shade of hindsight that makes the past look so preternaturally rosy, then I must resolve to enjoy the present. A recent visit to Murakami, a kick ass new Japanese restaurant that sets fire to sake-laced cocktails and spins out more sushi than you can wave your chopsticks at, makes me glad to be alive.

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May Fair Kitchen

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Steak and seafood in an immaculate Mayfair Hotel

7.5/10

The May Fair Kitchen opened earlier last year in the May Fair Hotel located in, yes, you guessed it, Mayfair. In keeping with the area, both the hotel and the restaurant are slinky-smooth and the epitome of tasteful elegance. Super-buffed oceans of pristine marble are a joy to swoop across as you glide past the hotel reception and through to the restaurant, or enter the dining room from the street itself, under canary yellow awnings and a pretty excess of flora and foliage.

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64 Degrees

64 degrees restaurant

Honey, you’re familiar,
like my mirror, years ago.

- Hozier

7.5/10

I’ve only just come across Hozier, and I can’t stop listening to him. An ex choir boy from the Wicklow Mountains, his voice is chiselled with an Irish twang that is both soulful and bluesy, which tapers into something blacker for the grittier, more divisive lyrics. His voice is the crook of an elbow which encircles you in a deep, dark place, and it’s been romancing me since last night. I mention this because it’s the soundtrack that I’m writing my review of 64 Degrees to, and they seem to fit together.

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Tentazioni

Tentazioni, Mill Street, Bermondsey, Italian, restaurant review

The day my blog died, and I found a great Italian place

7/10

Earlier this week something happened that made my heart plummet from its usual cavity to somewhere between my kidneys. The alarm sounded and I hastily scrambled for the wretched clanging, finally opening a single eye to locate my phone and silence the banshee from within it. Several furtive fumblings revealed it to be by my knees, the scoundrel, but now that I was awake my usual morning activity could resume: Twitter: tick, Whatsapp: tick, Blog: ……………….. 404 error.

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Rum Kitchen, Wings Day

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Nothing but rum-soaked love for the concept of bottomless wings

7/10

The heart of Notting Hill has always been in its thrumming West Indian community and, at its epicentre, a vibrant culinary tradition of ackee, jerk chicken, curry mutton and gumbo, alongside the infamous annual carnival. As such, the Westbourne Grove and Portobello area of Notting Hill makes for an excellent location for The Rum Kitchen, a feel good Caribbean restaurant serving spiced soul food and tiki-esque cocktails.

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Blacklock

blacklock soho chops, hawksmoor, gordon ker

Fabulous Chops from a trio of Hawksmoor Alumni

8/10

I’ve been getting to know someone recently and we’re in those delicious early stages where conversations last long into the night, and everything is unchartered and unspoiled. Everything except, of course, figuring how to navigate Valentines Day. What’s the right etiquette for saying yes, I like flowers, but don’t feel like you need to get me any just now? You can’t admit to enjoying the tradition this early without sounding like you have Expectations with a Capital E, but I do like Valentine’s Day. I like having someone else organise dinner, I like flowers and flutes of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc. Not that I’ve been thinking about it or anything… In the end however, I got sent a single emoticon of a flower, which I might have dwelt on if it hadn’t been for a fabulous lunch at Blacklock.

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Holborn Dining Room

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Holborn benefits from a comforting ‘Brit’ brasserie 

7/10

Although I am loath to speak about work on a Friday evening, I’d hazard a guess that most of you have just thawed your personalities out of their mid-week hibernation, in anticipation for the weekend. Some of the especially cursed amongst you may have just left the confines of Holborn, where there is an extra special need for the numbing caress of that weekly lobotomy. To make things worse, a few unspeakably awful people have now taken to calling the area ‘Midtown’ which, every time I hear it, makes me want to gouge out my own eyes with the stump of my chewed-up bic. All things considered, the silver lining of having to be in Holborn regularly is the proximity to the new Holborn Dining Room.

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The Park Lane Hotel

The Park Lane Hotel - Palm Court 1

A civilized afternoon tea for a more mature clientele

7/10

Afternoon tea is one of those things that I adore in all and any of its manifestations, from the Bloomsbury-cafe varieties to formal silver service affairs, and everything in between. Asking me to choose my favourite would be quite unholy but if I’m honest, like any parent with a pet child, I do have a preference for the old school hotels. It’s the way in which the waiters’ lean in to you, with one hand tucked behind their backs, and gently twist a cocked champagne bottle in position. It’s the nudge of a loose leaf tea into a china cup, the tactile stiffness of ironed linen and the reassuring weight of the cutlery. If all of that sounds appealing, then you too will probably enjoy experiencing afternoon tea at The Sheraton Park Lane Hotel.

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Chinese Cricket Club

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Celebrating Chinese New Year with Szechuan cooking and dim sum

7/10

My fondness for Chinese New Year is totally unbiased, and has nothing at all to do with the fact my birth year just happens to coincide with Year of the Dragon. In case you haven’t already twigged, Dragon people are pretty fucking cool. Like any upstanding human being, I have the utmost respect for any centuries-old tradition, whether or not it happens to confirm my own beliefs in an incontrovertible way. Like I said, totally unbiased. With the next Chinese New Year just round the corner (19th Feb to be exact), an invitation to The Chinese Cricket Club seems an opportune time to to get intimate with tongue-numbing Szechuan cuisine.

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Medlar

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A lack of stars does not mean an absence of good food

6.5/10

Occupying the less salubrious end of Kings Road, Medlar has recently had the misfortune of suffering a rather public ‘demotion’ with the loss of its Michelin star. An online perusal reveals Medlar to have an ardent and loyal following of critics and commoners alike, many of whom were quick to spring to its defence. It has since been floating around my conscience, and the time has finally come to pay a visit.

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Rex & Mariano

Rex and Mariano

Quality seafood that won’t cost you your first born

7/10

Rex and Mariano is the newest seafood restaurant from the guys behind Goodman, Burger and Lobster and Beast. The aim of their new venture seems to be to make seafood more affordable and accessible to Londoners. By all accounts, it’s working.

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Hibiscus

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Let’s hope I don’t get called a C**t.

7/10

Claude Bosi has made quite a name for himself over the past few years. In Paris he worked for Michel Rostang, Alain Passard and Alain Ducasse before moving to Ludlow, Shropshire, where in 2000 he opened up his restaurant Hibiscus. He soon gained two Michelin stars before moving Hibiscus to Mayfair, and then quickly regained those stars. With such a prestigious culinary journey it seems a shame to think that Claude Bosi is also remembered for his particularly unsavoury reaction to a blogger who wrote a review which was, to put it mildly, not entirely to the chefs liking. Said blogger got a pretty rough ride on Twitter from a lot of chefs who resorted to a spot of rather nasty bullying.

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La Porte Des Indes

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Impossibly pricey Indian with a penchant for colonialism

6/10

The first thing you’ll notice about La Porte Des Indes is how inconceivably big it is – humongous really. The vast interior of this Indian restaurant spans over two floors of a former Edwardian ballroom and has a sizeable menu to match. There are culinary nods to the French-Indian town of Pondicherry with things like Poulet Rouge and Cassoulet de Fruits de Mer, as well as pages and pages of other regional dishes.

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Mamounia Lounge

Mamounia Blazer – Flora de Cana 18yr, berries, Mamounia Lounge Mayfair, Curzon street, Arabic

Arabian nights meets Vegas, baby

7/10

The Mayfair outpost of Mamounia marks the second site for this popular Middle Eastern brand, which is both restaurant, club and shisha terrace in one. Any skepticism that this unruly combination might inspire is generally unwarranted where the food and drinks are concerned.

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World’s End Market

World End Market Fish Kings Road Chelsea

Slick Fish market meets old school pub

7/10

Chelsea’s infamous Kings Road begins at Sloane Square and passes deep into the south west of central London. Past the moodily lit designer boutiques, art galleries and vintage cinemas, and under the belly of Earls Court and Brompton Road, there is a building as old as time itself.

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Gibson’s at The Yacht London

Gibsons yacht london temple restaurant review

Pub food on a Thames steamer. Save it for a good day.

5.5/10

The Yacht London is a steamer moored on Temple dock on the Thames, and has had an illustrious past which includes hosting Winston Churchill and the Queen. The on-board restaurant, Gibson’s, is located on the lower deck and offers sweeping views across the river and onto the opposite bank, from the London Eye on one side to The National Gallery and The Shard.

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Bad Egg

Bad Egg, Neil Rankin, Moorgate

Rankin goes to Moorgate with an egg restaurant, but its no Smokehouse

6.5/10

When I first heard that Neil Rankin was opening a new restaurant with a focus on one of my favourite things, the humble egg, I was excited in a way that I haven’t been in a while. In retrospect, I think I was expecting something more along the lines of Smokehouse, where Rankin first romanced us all with seared foie gras, buttery apple pie and duck egg. Bad Egg is less rousing than all that, and I must apologise to all the other Rankin enthusiasts in the I Heart Neil club, but I leave a little disappointed.

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Mark’s Bar

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Flying the Union Jack with Brit-inspired cocktails

7/10

You’d have to have lived under a rock for the last few years to not recognise the name Mark Hix; like an insatiable vandal, his scrawl is on everything. His role as a chef, food writer and restauranteur means that he’s had columns in Esquire and The Independent, as well as authoring a number of cookbooks. His empire extends to various restaurants across London, which include the chicken and steak concept restaurants ‘Tramshed’, ‘Hixter City’ and ‘Hix Soho’. He’s been a busy boy.

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Modern Pantry

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A thoroughly enjoyable take on ‘fusion’

7/10

Brunch isn’t that popular in London; less treasured than the tradition of afternoon tea, a quick google will nevertheless bring up Modern Pantry as a top contender in the egg and soldier race. I have to admit to not reading much about it beforehand, and so the ‘fusion’ element of the menu is something of a surprise. The global pick & mix of ingredients and cuisines result in things like curry leaf waffles, plantain fritters, yuzu hollandaise, pickled red cabbage and black sesame labneh, and that’s just the brunch menu. The all-day menu is just as jumbled, but happily, most of it turns out well.

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The Zetter Townhouse

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Tony C’s cocktails for under a tenner, in a fabulously eccentric hotel

7/10

The Zetter Townhouse is a small boutique hotel on the cobbles of St Johns Square in Clerkenwell. An offshoot of The Zetter Hotel, The Zetter Townhouse has just 13 guest rooms of varying sizes and degrees of quirkiness. The hotel is themed around the home of an eccentric aunt from centuries past, the rooms hoarded with her assorted curios. Nowhere is this more evident than in the reception area which also doubles as the cocktail lounge and breakfast room. Often featured on ‘London’s best’ lists, the well made drinks and attractive ambience make it deserving of such accolades.

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Valentina

Valentina Fine Foods Chiswick Italian Deli
Humble Italian deli and restaurant in Chiswick

7/10

The family run Valentina Fine Foods have just opened their seventh branch in Chiswick, bringing their brand of homely Italian charm to my neck of suburbia. The front of the store serves as a delicatessen, selling essentials from the Lazio region of Italy. Shelves groan under the weight of assorted pastas, antipasti, olive oils, jams and honeys. An olive bar is also available, stocked from the annually harvested family grove, or pick from cheeses, charcuterie, cakes and freshly baked breads. The restaurant at the back of the shop is ideal for young families to refuel after a wander down the common and high street, and I can see why it’s so busy.

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