Film & Fizz

Film & Fizz One Aldwych Axis

Dinner and a show, whats not to like?

7/10

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.

Continue reading

Mele E Pere

Mele E Pere

A Soho Italian with a difference

8/10

Opened a few years ago, this Soho institution takes its inspiration from the hometown of head chef, Andrea Mantovani. Previously of Arbutus and Wild Honey, Andrea now cooks homely Northern Italian dishes at Mele E Pere. The homestyle philosophy is apparent in how the kitchen operates; all bread, pasta, desserts and ice-creams are made in-house every day. The bar follows suit, making its own variations on vermouth – an aromatic and fortified white wine flavoured with botanicals, spices, fruits, roots and herbs.

A cocktail list includes many options that utilise this fragrant spirit, whilst more traditional ones include well-made cosmopolitans and espresso martinis, as well as a pear-spiked bellini. The advantages of making your bread fresh are obvious, our focaccia being unsurprisingly moreish, dotted with pesto and delightfully soft. With this try the stracciatella, in Italian a word which means ‘torn apart’. In the food world, stracciatella is a product of Puglia and refers to strands of mozzarella soaked in fresh cream – the milky insides of burrata. At Mele E Pere, the cool and loose creamy cheese is served with heirloom tomatoes and black figs. For a smokier offering, try the fried squid with paprika-dusted aioli.

Continue reading

The Princess of Wales

The Princess of Wales

A pretty pub in Primrose Hill

6/10

London is hectic, to put it mildly, but even in its tireless confines there are areas of peace. Just north of Primrose Hill and west of Camden is a sheltered pocket of land that manages to be entirely delectable. In this leafy slice of suburbia there are delicious Georgian townhouses, piled five stories high and enveloped in foliage. There are sweet little churches, with worn stairs that wind down to the endless Regents Canal. There are honest-to-God, beer and grub pubs; todays venue, The Princess of Wales, is one such institution.

Its clientele include hirsute, round-bellied fellows, with a few trendier bods from Camden no doubt. The area is residential, the houses cost a pile and the shops are more bespoke than not. The pub itself has undergone something of a relaunch. Evidence of this is peppered throughout the three story space – velvet chandeliers, a banksy-inspired beer garden and embossed wallpaper. Still, this is a low-key affair and a strictly local pub.

Continue reading

Cocomaya

Cocomaya

Classy cake

7/10

Cocomaya is the sweet-shop collaboration between a trio of fashions biggest names – former head of concept at Liberty Joel Bernstein, Agent Provocateur co-founder Serena Rees, and accessories consultant Walid al Damirji. With three branches around the Hyde Park area, the newest is our venue today located near Sloane Square.

With seating for up to 16 people inside and a few tables outside, this is one petite offering. No matter, the cakes here are all delightful. The interior of the shop is shabby-chic, the crockery is dainty and mix-and-match, and all the cakes are displayed on faux tree stumps. Pushing open the story-book door leads you into warm, curving insides. Wood-lined walls sport an excess of shelving, each length holding a cacophony of items; savoury pastries, scones, crodoughs, cakes, and miniature version of each to boot.

Continue reading

Forge

Forge bar London

Work hard, play harder

7/10

Forge is a city-slick bar located not minutes from bank station, attracting a vibrant afterwork crowd. A £2million refurbishment has seen this double level space scrapped back and given an industrial-chic makeover. Chill out with a few well created cocktails on the ground floor, or descend to the clubbier basement. As described, you might at first think that the food takes a back seat to the drink. To our delight, this initial impression proves to be a mistake.

Meat is the order of the day; either cooked in ‘the pit’ or on ‘the spit’, options include caramelized coco cola glazed pork ribs, spit roast chicken, and grilled sirloin on the bone. The highlight by far on the meat menu is a 200z Tomahawk sharing steak, tendered over a blazing pit and then sliced open. Both the charcoal-blackened bone and meat are served on a platter with chips, onion bhajis, tomato relish and red wine jus. Although this is recommended for 2 to share, it could easily sate 3.

Continue reading

Toro Gordo

Toro Gordo

Hammersmith’s new baby

8/10

Toro Gordo is a lively Spanish restaurant in Hammersmith, serving Catalonia-styled tapas in generous portions. This coastal regionality ensures that the menu is heavy with fish-based recipes, as well as developed vegetarian and meat sections. The owner of Toro Gordo, Miguel Cafferena, spent a few years travelling through Asia before opening up his new venture. As a result there are parts of the menu that speak of fusion and, remarkably, these cross-cultural leanings seem to work.

Stamp-sized slices of seared tuna tataki slip from cooked edges to rare centres, and are served with a biting wasabi mayonnaise. Heaps of tobiko roe are piled on each fish sliver, popping most pleasingly on the roof of the mouth. The second Euro-Asian offering sees hulks of sirloin in a soy sauce dressing, full of plump oyster mushrooms, asparagus and crushed nuts. The meat is skilfully pink, well rested and languorously placed in the fragrant sauce.

Continue reading

Comptoir Gascon

Comptoir Gascon

Affordable luxury

8/10

The food philosophy at Comptoir Gascon comes straight from the verdant pastures of Gascony, a gastronomically-rich region of southwest France. The phrase used interchangeably with this area, ‘douceur de vivre’ (sweetness of life), is adopted with ease at Comptoir Gascon. Like its Basque muse, the restaurant focuses mainly on serving duck, foie gras and truffle.

These typically expensive imports are very reasonably priced at Comptoir Gascon; both the foie gras based meals are priced at under £15. The only thing that might keep you from ordering two of everything is the inherent richness of the food, and the bounteousness of the portions. For a City restaurant, you get a whole lot of value for money.

Continue reading

Pantry at 108

Afternoon tea at pantry at 108 The marylebone hotel

Afternoon Tea – Heaven in a trio

8/10

Pantry at 108 is located in The Marylebone Hotel, and serves both a lunch and afternoon tea menu. Indulge in this quintessentially British pastime daily from noon until 6pm, with a choice of three different options. The ‘Classic’ afternoon tea set (£28) includes all the natural elements – finger sandwiches, scones, and cakes – whilst the ‘Gluten free’ version (£28) is the healthier (lower dairy and sugar) alternative which is also coeliac-friendly. A third option, the ‘Indulgent’ afternoon tea (£38), adds Moët & Chandon.

A glass of bubbly wins me over every time; a scientific fact, as mystical as the mathematical value of pi (potential suitors, take note). Inevitably, it is towards the Indulgent afternoon tea that we drift. Although we are absorbed in sipping on our champagne spoils and congratulating each other on our preternatural intelligence in the menu department, we also manage to pick a few teas.

Continue reading

Lucky Pig

The Lucky Pig

A veritable den of iniquity

8/10

The Lucky Pig is tucked away in the heartlands of Fitzrovia, and isn’t somewhere that you just stumble upon. The clandestine nature of this cocktail bar adds to its charm; the only notable sign of its presence is a modest poster above a set of stairs. Themed around the American Speakeasy’s of the prohibition era, this underground hideaway is evocative of 20’s New York, fitted out with plush leather armchairs, ivory chaise lounges and oddly matched furniture. Further in, you will find intimate arched alcoves – private areas within the bar for groups of upto 8, which can be screened off even further by closing red velvet curtains.

In stark contrast to some of this opulence is the more rough-and-tumble shell of the place – worn down walls, gritty fittings and crumbling brickwork, punctuated with a cacophony of oddities. Vintage typing machines and an old Sewer sit to be admired, whilst from the ceilings and walls hang delicate Chinese lanterns and risqué posters. The culmination of this decor is a space that is immersive and engaging, enabling a sociable group experience or more intimate connection in the cordoned-off coves.

Continue reading

Biju Bubble Tea

Biju Bubble Tea

A fresh take on Bubble Tea

7/10

In Soho, almost every corner has a bubble tea café. One of the newest to fling open its doors in this sipper’s heartland is Biju – apparently a bubble tea room with a difference. Nick Phan, the young and sprightly owner, is on hand to divulge what it is that makes Biju’s bubble tea different to the rest. Cross legged and poised on the stepped cork seating, Nick explains that instead of mass-making ingredients in huge batches, at Biju everything is made fresh. Tea leaves from Taiwan sit in espresso machines, waiting to be brewed for each individual order. For the flavoured juices, instead of using processed powders to imitate taste and colour, Biju uses ‘nectars’ – concentrated syrups of the fresh ingredients.

These specifics add up to make a set of bubble teas that are really quite lovely. For a creamy and uplifting tea, try the marvellously refreshing honey-dew melon with chunks of egg custard. The surprising intensity of the honey melon flavour is given tone and depth with the crème-caramel custard. Although it might seem like one of the more syrupy drinks, the sweetness levels are pleasantly in check. The sugar used in the bubble teas here are approximately half of what other bubble teas shops in the area use, and all the better for it.

Continue reading