Yup…even though I was just there in April, I was back again in June. Wild horses and all that. And what a whirlwind! Work work work with a little fun on the side. Here’s where I ate and drank and what I thought…
Made in Camden, Roundhouse, Chalk Farm Road: LOVED IT. Totally empty on a Saturday night at 8 pm. But luscious food and friendly, professional service. Maybe it’s the somewhat odd location — a concert venue — that was keeping the punters away. We almost ordered a second batch of roasted pork belly, confit fennel crumble, plum and rhubarb relish and I loved the grilled onglet, smoked chilli sambal, asparagus, and broad bean. Casual, but still very nice. The Verdict: Highly recommended.
The Hide Bar, Bermondsey Street, SE1: After dinner with Al & Louise, I headed over to London Bridge to meet EuWen for some birthday drinks. Cheese & Biscuits, Bribed with Food, and Jordi were there too, and it was great catching up. Plus some others, but my memory is a little hazy after all the Albariño and, well, the jetlag. Everyone seemed really tall and rosy-cheeked and had posh accents. A man waiting at the bar told me I should smile more. Verdict: I’m too old, I fear. Nice private room though.
City Best Kebab, 10 Pittfield Street: Not one of my prouder moments. After saying goodbye to EuWen, I was wide awake and — can you believe it — starving. So I went to City Best Kebab and got a small lamb doner to go. And it was pretty awesome. Verdict: If it’s after 2 a.m. and you’re in the ‘hood, sure.
The Japanese Ladies on Brick Lane: Across from the Sunday Up Market entrance, and just a bit north — right by the lane that takes you into that other market (the Backyard Market?), I picked up a chicken katsu curry for £5. They don’t do smalls anymore…only big bowls. A little too much for me, but still very delicious. And I like that you can see them frying your chicken right in front of you. As the first order of the day, my chicken was damn good. Verdict: Fun if you’re on Brick Lane on a Sunday.
Prospect of Whitby, 57 Wapping Wall: Gerry, Ben and I dropped in here for a pint because it’s one of London’s oldest pubs. It’s been taken over by a pub chain and has lost some of what I’m sure was original charm. Verdict: Not worth the trip.
The Wapping Project, Wapping Wall: After our disappointing stop at The Prospect of Whitby, we hopped across the street to The Wapping Project. And fell in love! We did not eat here. We just drank. But it was lovely, with the sun coming through the windows just SO. The Wapping Project is set in an old Power Station. There’s a spookily lovely exhibition in the back — a wedding dress suspended over water. Verdict: I can’t vouch for the food, but for drinks, it’s a really lovely and unusual setting.
Bevis Marks, 4 Heneage Lane: On Monday, I had dinner with a business colleague who keeps Kosher. I had no idea how difficult it was to keep truly Kosher in London until I had to feed someone for a week without making constant trips to Golders Green. (Note: Waitrose on Whitecross Street has a small number of kosher sandwiches. Look for the ones in the green boxes.) So on Monday night, I made my first trip ever to Bevis Marks, a place that’s been on my list for a while. The service was really lovely. The food was competently done. But as my Israeli colleague said at one point in the meal, “I come all the way to London and I’m eating Eastern European food.” I also felt the portions were VERY large. Oh, and they were out of latkes. OUT OF LATKES?? Verdict: A good choice for a Kosher meal. Pricey though.
The Rivington, 28-30 Rivington Street: On Tuesday, we had a big group dinner at The Rivington Grill in Shoreditch. My beet salad starter was GREAT, but my roast chicken main was dry and HUGE. It felt like 1/2 a chicken. They swear it wasn’t a whole half, but it sure was BIG. Verdict: I’ve dined at The Rivington many times and generally like it, but I felt a little let down by the chicken. Ah, also they totally struggled with a big group and we waited forever for our food. They did charge my iPhone for me though.
The Bricklayer’s Arms, 63 Charlotte Road, Shoreditch: I bought 20 Kronenbourgs here, 20 minutes before closing. Seriously. Verdict: Fine. A nice little pub in an area chock full of trendoids.
Grab Thai, 5 Leonard Street, Shoreditch: I noticed this little Thai eatery down a side street by my office on my first day in town and knew it warranted a visit. I liked it so much I went a second time later in the week. Nice green curry. Verdict: Great for a casual lunch.
The Zetter Townhouse: Dropped in here for a quick couple of drinks before dinner on Wednesday. Loved the old auntie feel in here…like you’re in your grandma’s lounge. All very civilized. Verdict: Recommended for cocktails.
Bistro du Vin: Without a booking, we managed to walk in off the street on a busy Wednesday night and snag the only unreserved table. I’m sure it’s a nice place, but my experience here left me ANGRY. I watched as the gentleman at the table next to us sent back his steak frites because the steak was underdone. Then my steak frites arrived — ordered medium rare — and it was pretty bloody. So I asked to send it back. The waitperson tried to argue with me that it was indeed medium rare. (Strike #1 — don’t argue with the customer. In this particular instance, it doesn’t matter if I’m right or wrong…I will want it COOKED MORE.) I patiently said that I was sure it wasn’t medium rare, but that it didn’t matter and I just wanted it cooked a bit more. She SMIRKED at me, started to take the plate away, and then started this tsk-tsk head-shaking thing as if my request were just so ridiculous…to the point where I had to say, out loud, “Don’t you shake your head at me. It’s undercooked. Take it back.” Verdict: Meh.
Thursday: I took Thursday off and went to bed ridiculously early. It was awesome.
Cay Tre: Have you figured out what hotel I was staying at yet? On Friday night, I met some friends over in Hyde Park to see The Killers. And it was awesome, but shame about the rain. I realized when I got back to my hotel why I was so hungry — I hadn’t eaten dinner yet — so I dropped into Cay Tre for some duck curry to go. Just like The Killers, it was awesome. I really, really enjoyed this. This may have been helped by the 17 beers I had drank earlier, but still. Pretty damn delicious. Oh, and while I was waiting for my food, I totally watched this 70 year old man mack on a 20 year old girl. FASCINATING. Verdict: Yeah! (Cay Tre, that is. Not dating old guys.)