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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Lyle’s

Lyle, Lyle's, Shoreditch, tea building

Simplicity to a fault. Almost a punishment

6/10

Lyle’s opened up earlier this year to a flurry of press and reviews, undoubtedly due to the ‘provenance’ of it’s owners. Chef James Lowe has previously cooked at pop ups like Upstairs at The Ten Bells before moving on to St John Bread & Wine, where he met restaurateur John Ogier’s. Lowe and Ogier went on to set up Lyle’s with help from the owners of Trishna and Gymkhana. Despite the depth of experience of all parties involved, I wouldn’t recommend eating here.

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Androuet

Androuet cheese spitalfields

Fondue in Old Spitalfields Market: tip – take it to go

6.5/10

Androuet is a tiny cheese shop with a big reputation. Established in France in 1909, the fromagerie has extended its roots to Old Spitalfields Market and stocks various cheeses, from Berkshires Barkham Blue to the French Gaperon d’Auvergne and most things in between. Behind the little shop is an even smaller restaurant in which even a dozen covers would feel cramped. Ambience issues aside, the cheese itself is lovely.

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Bassoon Bar

Bassoon Bar Corinthia Embankment

Cocktails, live jazz, glamour

8/10

Corinthia is easily one of the most elegant 5 star hotels in London, and is tailor made to impress with its crackling fires and stunning crystal chandelier, under which can be heard the thrilling clink of champagne flutes at afternoon tea. The hotel also enjoys a Harrods concession, a Daniel Galvin hair salon and an in-house florist – everything that a girl could ever want and need, basically. It should then come as no surprise that Bassoon, Corinthia’s super-smooth cocktail bar, is just as sophisticated.

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Corinthia

Corinthia afternoon tea, festive christmas

Afternoon tea: It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

9/10

I reviewed the traditional afternoon tea at Corinthia recently and was instantly won over, and so an opportunity to go back for the festive version was a no brainer. Everything I initially loved is still there, and then some. The venue is perfect for Christmas; it’s domed glass cupola spills natural light through the 1000 baccarat crystals of the Full Moon chandelier, and room itself is transformed with festive finery and crackling fires. Frosted firs line the periphery, and a special 10-foot tree made entirely of gingerbread lends a fragrance and luxury that is very becoming.

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Comptoir Libanais

comptoir libanais lebanese chelsea

Like any good chain, the ethos centres around dependability

7/10

As a western expat brat growing up in the Middle East, you get used to a certain ‘bubble’ culture; pools, American malls, coffee shops on every corner and endless Lamborghinis. In such a sanitized environment of absolute wealth, conservative traditions and punitive justice, there isn’t very much in the way of criminal activity. Even though I love London to absolute smithereens, it’s times like this that I miss the bubble. The recent news of a serial sex attacker wandering around my neck of the woods has me worried, and I am prone to paranoia. Nobody knows the extent of this more than my dad who, at my behest, erected an impenetrable metal mesh on our front door after I watched a particularly disturbing movie trailer. He wishes I was joking.

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Spiaggia

spiaggia london

Beachy keen – A chilled out and casual Italian eatery in Fulham

6.5/10

It not easy to create the illusion of sunshine when there is none, and the miserable grey-hued sky above our little city is particularly hard to correct. In a modest nook of Fulham, just an inch-on-a-map, there sits a restaurant that seeks to improve our dismal climes. Whilst the beach-themed Spiaggia will not magically transport you to a Caribbean paradise, it is cute and, most importantly, not tacky. The 50-cover ground floor features deck chairs and a tropical palate of turquoise, bright orange and pink splashed across fresh, white-washed drift wood. The basement bar is much more den-like; a beach at midnight strewn with cushions and secret alcoves. Movies are played onto the wall from a projector on Mondays, and the vibe is relaxed.

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108 Brasserie

108 Brasserie Marylebone

A blessedly legit hotel restaurant

7/10

108 Brasserie has just re-opened after a top to tail refurbishment, gutting its innards and replacing them with long bars, frosted glass and taut, red leather. Kinky. Although it now looks like a brasserie, that is where the French connection both begins and ends. The menu is styled loosely on homely British food, and is well suited to the village-like crook of Marylebone lane in which it sits.

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The Cavendish

Cavendish new 35, marylebone restaurant cocktail

Unfussy cooking and inventive cocktails from an ex El Bulli chef

8/10

Trained at El Bulli, it will be of little surprise to you that head chef Alfonso Lillo Fas is a stunner in the kitchen. The Cavendish provides a cool new medium in which to experience his obvious culinary prowess, without the fussiness of fine dining. Spread over two floors, the glossy 1940’s interior is accented in jeweled teal leather and wood, and gulps in light through ample windows. Views onto the busy Marylebone streets below are ripe for people watching, or choose to be entertained with some slick table side cooking.

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Pont St

Pont St brunch knightsbridge chelsea sloane square kensington

A capable, if expensive, Knightsbridge brunch

7/10

Brunch! The gloriously unhurried ceremony of grazing away the early afternoon. Brunch isn’t always about fine dining; it’s one of those things that is as enjoyable when it involves simple, unchallenging and casual cooking. As such it is well suited to Pont St, the most recent addition to Belgraves Hotel.

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Lamborghini Vodka

Lamborghini vodka Knightsbrigde cocktail

Product review – Italian vodka from Lamborghini

Lamborghini, a brand synonymous with luxury, expense and fine Italian quality, have recently launched their bespoke vodka in Britain. Already widespread in Italy and France the vodka is destined for high end clubs, as well as some of the kookier outposts. The venue for tonight’s tasting is Beauchamp Bar, a covert Knightsbridge drinking hole just south of Harrods.

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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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