Posted by Krista on June 17, 2008
79 Marylebone High Street
Tel: 020 7486 5746
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, June 8
The Victims: Al, Oscar Rutton, Richard
The Damage: £15 or thereabouts each
The Background: It is just so very lovely Sunday that we must get out and go somewhere. We debate a picnic in the park but Rutton wisely decides that buying all the stuff will be too much work. So instead Richard suggests Coco Momo, right on Marylebone High Street.
I am late–I’ve been with the accupuncturist, my new addiction–and I’m feeling very light-headed in a good way as I slowly make my way around Marylebone to meet the boys. I approach from the west and run smack dab into them, sitting at a sunny table on the pavement, looking very 2008 with young Oscar in tow.
The Food: Salads for all of us. Nice salads. Very refreshing and relaxing and perfect for a day like this when all you want to do is sit and have something light and get a little color. After lunch, we buy some ice cream and Pouilly Fuisse and lay around Regent’s Park for hours, playing backgammon and watching Oscar push his pram around.
The Verdict: Nice.
Posted in Bar Food, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on May 16, 2008
Butler's Wharf Chophouse
36e Shad Thames
Tel: 020 7403 3403
Date of Last Visit: Wednesday, April 30th
The Victims: Aunt Ursula, Uncle George
The Damage: £50 or thereabouts
The Background: U&G have been to see the Tower of London. I've stayed home to catch up on life, but I find myself quickly at loose ends. They call me to punch in around noon and I express my boredom and offer to meet them for lunch.
They are so very cold and wet when I pick them up at the Starbucks on Shad Thames that traveling for food is not an option. We walk into the first restaurant available, which is the bar at The Butler's Wharf Chophouse.
I love having no expectations. I assume my food at the Chophouse will be good, but not great. I assume service will be okay. They exceed our expectations in so many ways as to have me repeatedly wonder out loud, "And why is it that I have never eaten here before?"
Firstly, the bread. There's bread with rosemary in it. It's amazingly good and zingy. When our bread bowl is empty, my uncle asks our server to just fill it up with the rosemary slices. Over on the sideboard, there's an oasis of bread. Hundreds, if not thousands of slices, ready to be served. We are enraptured. (OK, I am exaggerating on the thousands bit.)
Secondly, my carrot soup. It's the perfect remedy to such an awful, awful day. It is warm and comforting and salty and (perhaps not surprisingly) full of carrots. I am in love.
Thirdly, the fish and chips. This is my aunt and uncle's first and only experience with fish and chips in London. My uncle is a heavy duty recreational fisherman. We're talking tuna, here, mainly. Lots and lots of tuna. He used to have a license plate that said Blue Fin. (Don't worry, he understands more than most about what's happened to the world's stocks of blue fin tuna.) My point in telling you this is that he's caught the fish and cooked it himself (or skipped the cooking entirely and just eaten it directly). He knows fresh fish. And he is in love with his fish and chips. He notes that if the fish were any fresher, it would leap from the plate. Days later, and they are still talking about the fish and chips with that starry sort of wondrous look in their eyes.
I have the sea bream and it's nice and healthy. Then I go and ruin it all by eating all their leftovers.
The Verdict: I will be back, and I'll order my own fish and chips thank you.
Posted in Bar Food, London, SE1, United Kingdom | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on February 15, 2008
65 Westbourne Grove
020 7229 2233
The Date: Sunday January 13, 2008
The Victims: Rutton, Evren
The Damage: £20 or maybe even a bit less.
The Background: I've walked into a Timeout photo shoot. Seriously. They are there taking photos of the cocktails at Westbourne House. Good sign, I think. But too bad I'm not drinking. Sigh. It's too early for a cocktail anyhow. It's not yet 3 p.m.!
My college roommate Erin–her grandfather had these rules. Firstly, Gin & Tonic is a summer drink. And only a summer drink. White Russians are acceptable at other times of year. Secondly, there is no drinking before 3 p.m. These rules still boomerang through my brain when I find myself at a garden party on a Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. Because you know, that's what I do with my Saturdays.
Well, I'm not at a garden party and it's not Saturday. And I don't even like gin & tonics. But here I am, sitting in a very empty Westbourne House during PRIME brunch time. And there's nothing going on. Maybe they should offer pancakes or something. Blueberry pancakes would be nice.
But in come Rutton and Evren and there are no blueberry pancakes. So it's a steak sandwich and a steak sandwich (no bloody Mary, but I was so very tempted to put it on the Underhills bill) and a club sandwich of some sort. Fries on the side. Hmmm.
The Verdict: Only if it was my only option. Good. Just good. Nothing special. I was kinda miffed for heading all the way across town for this one.
Random Excitement…I'm bringing in the pros and Botoxing up the blog. I've suggested Matt Bites, Food Beam, Lovescool, and Amateur Gourmet as sites I like the look and feel of. Are there others? As I've been trolling the Internet for inspiration, I've been been awed by the numbers of Bloggers out there. Who knew we had so much to say?
Even More Random Excitement…I remembered some other sites I like the look and feel of…Eggbeater, Find Your Craving, and Pomegranita/Love Made Visible.
Coming Soon to this London food blog…Cancun Round-up, Tokyo Diner in Leicester Square, pastries in Chinatown, Magdla in Belsize, Oops in Covent Garden…
Posted in Bar Food, London, United Kingdom, W2 | 1 Comment
Posted by Krista on January 24, 2008
385 Holloway Road
Tel: 020 7609 6662
Date of Last Visit: Friday, 18 January
The Victims: Gerry, Ben
The Damage: £10 or so?
The Background: In Chicago, one of my favorite bars in the entire world was Delilah’s on Lincoln, just south of Diversey. Great music. Mixed crowd. Excellent beers. (Who doesn’t love $2 PBR’s???) So when Gerry and Ben were talking about Big Red and the music and the crowd and the bar, I got pretty excited about the prospect of visiting because it sounded a lot like Delilah’s. Now, going to a bar when you’re taking a break from the sauce is an interesting thing…but out of all the people I’ve encountered this month thus far, the folks at Big Red gave me the least amount of hassle. Tap water? Fine. Diet Coke? Coming right up. Cranberry and soda? Done. Gotta give ‘em credit for not blinking. I get the sense they’ve seen it all before.
The Entrance: Big Red is dark, and I’m very grateful for the smoking ban. The crowd early in the evening is gentrifying. Later in the evening, it’s punk and goth and a little metal thrown in. Plus some dear old regulars, who I have to wonder about. Do they like totally dig Metallica? Because the juke box is playing Metallica. And Muddy Waters. And Talking Heads. And at £1 for three songs, I’m a sucker.
The Food: I go for the burger and fries; Gerry and Ben opt for fajitas, which look much better than they taste, apparently. My burger is serviceable but they forgot to toast the bun, which is unforgiveable. That’s a lazy man’s burger.
The Decor: The neon promises Coronas and Coors Light, neither of which are to be had. TVs blare "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" It all feels so random, yet so right.
The Loos: Need a power washing. But I’ve seen worse.
The Verdict: I’ll go back for the crowd and the juke box. But first I need some tatoos.
P.S. Added a new post code. N7. Now that hasn’t happened in a while.
Posted in Bar Food, London, N7, United Kingdom | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on December 30, 2006
44-46 Cranbourne Street
Tel: 020 7734 7807
Date of Last Visit: 29 December 2006
The Victims: K & A
The Wine Mark Up (Heath, this is for you–as a replacement to the counterbalance): Hard to tell. We bought a bottle of Pierre Sparr Pinot Noir Reserve 2004. Alsatian. Cost us £24.50. Can’t find it online elsewhere, although I can find a few Pierre Sparr whites.
The Damage: £40ish total (so £13ish each). Exact figure unknown. K paid.
The Background: I have just arrived back in the country. After the longest wait in immigration EVER (but yet the fewest questions ever–perhaps they finally trust me), I was on Heathrow Express, in a taxi, and back home in NO TIME. Seriously, it was the cheapest and fastest ride back to my flat and well, most importantly, my bed, ever.
I let myself lie about only so long (OK, but that was very long) before planning my next meal. K & A were game to meet up and I convinced them to split the difference. We were in the mood for a wine bar, and the reviews for the Cork & Bottle were fantabulous. I thought maybe Leicester Square would be fun on a holiday weekend, when London is just so empty.
The Arrival: Well, I didn’t see much of Leicester Square, so I can’t tell you if it was packed or not. Exiting the tube station was a bit of a nightmare, but lickety-split, I was at the Cork & Bottle (smack dab in the middle of it all) and I managed to snag the last No Smoking table. It was folksy inside. Home-y. Convivial. I had hopes.
The Starters: In our country, cheese and crackers are not a pudding. Heck, that sentence wouldn’t even make any sense in my country; people would look at you like you were crazy crazy. This is me trying to say that K hooked us up with some cheese and crackers (well…the crackers were actually more like a baguette) to start us off, along with some potatoes and some tomato and mozzerella salad. It was good. Only good. Nothing great. But we liked the wine!
The Mains: They were out of burgers. They were out of the day’s special (ostrich) and they were out of the famed ham and cheese pie. These had the misfortune of being our top choices. So we were kinda screwed. And so we didn’t eat.
The Service: No table service. K ran to the bar, so I couldn’t really tell you.
The Verdict: Eh. I left hungry. It may be everyone else’s favorite wine bar, but it wasn’t mine!
Posted in Bar Food, London, United Kingdom, WC2 | 2 Comments
Posted by Krista on December 9, 2006
15 Whitcomb Street
Tel: 020 7839 2823
Date of Last Visit: Friday, December 8, 2006
The Victims: K & A, Chrissy, Joe, Diane, David, Kevin, Hannah
The Damage: £20 each, assuming David didn’t buy us a couple of bottles of red on the sly.
The Background: We were all over at "Christmas Drinks"–where I had narrowly avoided giving a speech!–and wanted to extend the frivolity. K had noticed a little wine bar that she felt could fit us all and wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg. Not knowing how many were with us, space was key. Hamptons Wine Bar offered just that.
The Approach: It was very cute. Apparently, people from my country are the only people that use the word cute. It was simple. Nice. Cozy. Wooden tables. Wooden floors. Friendly servers. We were not there for foie gras and sauterne, but rather cheap red and cheese and crackers. I wish I had taken a picture to show you what I mean by all this…I actually had the camera with me, but totally spaced out. Sorry!!
The Food: K&A ordered us up a storm, but apparently the kitchen isn’t open on the weekends, so they had to "give us what they had." This meant cheese, crackers, cheese, bread, crackers, cheese, bread, and some deep fried springrolls. And you know what? I was totally okay with this. Although I had originally hoped to get everyone over to Chinatown for some crispy duck (LOVE the duck), I was perfectly happy with my carbs and protein.
The Drink: Most of the wine was less than £20 a bottle, so we again ordered up a storm. I forget how many bottles we ordered, but it was a lot. I get the feeling David paid for a few on the sly…tricky!!!
The Verdict: You know, it’s not a destination. And the food was just bar snacks. But if you are around Trafalgar Square and need a place to go with a large group for some drinks and snacks, Hamptons will do you just fine.
Posted in Bar Food, London, United Kingdom, WC2 | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on November 11, 2006
2-4 Hoxton Square
Tel: 020 7613 0709
Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, November 7 and then again on Thursday November 8
The Damage: 15 quid a person without drinks, 20 quid with
The Victims: Julie, Feathers, Ross on Trip 1. 13 people on Trip 2.
The Background: It’s an odd thing, this global world we live in. Take a bunch of American girls and move them to England. Introduce them to a bunch of British boys and what happens? One of these British boys gets transferred to America. The weekend right before Thanksgiving no less! (What HR rep worked that one out???) So we took Ross out to lunch to educate him on 8 1/2 x 11, tap water, "cable," writing checks, and winter coats and boots and hats and gloves and scarves (real ones–not those pansy English ones that are more form than function). And guys named Chuck and Randy, which I guess don’t exist over on this side of The Pond.
The Entrance: The Hoxton Bar & Kitchen is empty at 12:45 on a Tuesday. Given Ross’ imminent departure, I chose it partially for it’s American-ish cuisine, although there wasn’t a glass of tap water in site. Note we weren’t in the bar, but rather the restaurant. We sat in a big booth by the windows which was nice because gosh darnit if it’s not just a little bit autumn-y these days and Hoxton Square itself does look all peaceful and greenish gold.
The Service: Nice, but just a little bit spacey. When I returned on Thursday night, our server accused (in a funny way) one of our group of ordering two beers for himself, and although we were the only folks in the place, they kept asking for the drink and food menus back although we were (I’d argue) obviously still perusing them.
The Starters: Thursday night, we ordered two things of nachos. Our server assured me that it was a large platter. In fact, she indicated the size with her hands. (Seemingly, about 12 inches of nachos.) Imagine my surprise when one of those Frenchie bowls for frites arrived. It was like a frite bowl (or a soup bowl) full of nachos. Talk about margin!!!They were tasty, but it’s hard to eat nachos out of a bowl. (Messy fingers.) They work better from a platter. We also ordered chorizo, which was pretty basic. Nothing exciting.
The Mains: Burgers, burgers, burgers. They were actually pretty good. And they had monterey jack cheese! Practically unheard of in this country! On Thursday night, some in our party ordered the ribs and they were really big ribs. I wouldn’t have wanted to eat them, they were so uncomfortable looking to hold and get through. Knife and fork? Gnaw away? What to do?
The Restrooms: Well, on Thursday night, it was a big night for the bar next door. So I went over to the ladies from the restaurant side, and it was fine, but on my way back, I had a very unattractive view of the men’s room–and the whiff was even worse. They totally need to power wash that place.
The Verdict: I thought this was a good choice for a relatively inexpensive meal for 13 people. And I was happy with my burger. I wouldn’t be adverse to going back.
Posted in Bar Food, London, N1, United Kingdom | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on October 9, 2006
87 Noel Rd
London N1 8HD
Tel: 020 7704 7631
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, October 8th, 2006
The Victims: Ben, Gerry, Kristi, Anna, Natalie, Roper
The Damage: Beer money
Sunday, Sunday. It was time for bookclub. This month was Orson Scott Card and Enders’ Game. I loved Enders’ Game. I loved Island Queen too. I loved in the way you love a neighborhood pub on a sunshiney day where you don’t have to work. Although no one really pays any attention to you at the bar, they’re out of Friuili (sp?), and there’s no music on, it’s okay. Really, it’s okay.
Luckily for us, the upstairs was empty and the sun was coming through the windows just so. We drank our beer, ate our bread and olives, and got some culture.
The Verdict: No complaints.
Posted in Bar Food, London, N1, United Kingdom | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on September 14, 2006
142 – 146 Whitecross Street
Date of Last Visit: Thursday, September 7th
The Victims: Julie, Feathers
The Damage: 10 quid per person? Less than that?
The Counterbalance: Sigh. I chose The Trader over The Gym.
The Background: Feathers and Julie looked like they were heading to The Gym. It had been a long day, and mine was not over yet. I said goodbye, and then received a text a quarter of an hour later. Come to The Trader. See, I walk past The Trader every so often and it just looks so NORMAL and decent. And I had mentioned this to Feathers the other day. So off she goes and goes to my pub. Traitor!
The Arrival: I skipped The Gym and arrived to find the ladies happily announcing how if you buy two glasses of wine, you get the bottle for free. Now this, my friends, is brilliant. I sat down and partook of the quaffable Pinot Grigio.
The Food: We split a cheeseburger three ways, and it was pretty decent. And the nachos were commendable. They were NOT Doritos! How nice. And they had cheese and chilli and all sorts of good stuff all over them. Heaven.
The Service: You order at the bar, so no service, really. BUT–the chef actually stopped by our table to ask how everything was! Snaps for that.
The Verdict: OK, the food wasn’t spectacular, but it was pretty decent. It was what it was. The place was pretty laid back and casual. I was annoyed by the dude checking out the Page Six girl, but it’s not The Trader’s fault. I’ll be back.
Posted in Bar Food, EC1, London, United Kingdom | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on September 2, 2006
90 Lots Road
Tel: 020 7352 5953
Date of Last Visit: Friday, September 1, 2006
The Victims: Too many to mention. The booking was for 17 people.
The Damage: 50 quid a head for music, food, drinks, service.
The Background: It was James’ 31st birthday, so Kellie wanted to arrange a surprise night out. Well, it was supposed to be a surprise. But it wasn’t. But that was okay.
The Approach: I was terrible and took a taxi all the way there. I don’t think I’ve ever been that far west before. It was crazy. Crazy rich people in their crazy big houses! What do all these people do for a living. Anyhow, when you get to the 606 Club, you have to ring the doorbell! It was crazy. In a good way. As Julie noted, it was like that episode of 90210 when the kids had to get the egg from 7-11 in order to get into the party.
The Atmosphere: Dark basement bar. Rec room feel to it. Suitably jazz-club-esque.
The Food: I ran 2.55 miles earlier in the evening, so I felt entitled to the Mexican nachos, which were really just corn chips smothered in cheese and salsa. They were good, but not great. I took the server’s recommendation and got the fillet steak, which was a big hunk of meat. It wasn’t as fillet-y as I thought it would be, but it was still good. I wish, in hindsight, that I had gotten the lamb tangine and the eggplant dish. They looked awesome. The chef is from North Africa. (Alergeria? Libya? Tunisia? What does that mean?)
The Music: The singer was AWESOME. Very strong voice. The music itself was a little too soul-y for me, but it was still pretty good. The best was when the singer dedicated Try a Little Tenderness to Kellie and James. That was cool.
The Verdict: I’d go back with out-of-town guests. It was a cool night out.
Posted in Bar Food, Live Music, London, SW10, United Kingdom | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on June 11, 2006
16 Hoxton Square
London N1 6NT
Tel: 020 7739 6022
Date of Last Visit: Wednesday, June 7th
The Victims: Feathers, Julie
The Damage: 36 quid each. Blame the wine.
I should have been in wine class, but instead, I chose some hands-on experience. Actually, I left work too late to make it to wine class. So instead I met Feathers and Julie at The Hoxton Apprentice.
For those of you who haven’t heard of the Apprentice before, what they do is train disadvantaged youths to work in the restaurant industry. A pound is added to your bill to support their efforts.
We enjoyed a table outside in the FANTASTIC weather, along with a lovely bottle of Rose. So funny how in my country, if I ordered a bottle of Rose, everyone would look at me funny! Not so in the UK, or at the Hoxton Apprentice.
Julie and Feathers were enjoying some hummous and pita when I arrived, and they we threw in an order of baba ganoush. Feathers had ordered a tasty-looking entree, which I believe was chicken.
Service throughout was VERY friendly and sweet. Very eager-to-please. A little perhaps too eager–they asked us a million times if we were okay–but that’s not a bad thing.
The Verdict: I’d go back.
Posted in Bar Food, London, N1, United Kingdom | Comments Off
Posted by Krista on May 4, 2006
97 Haverstock Hill
Tel: 020 7483 1261
Date of Last Visit: Sunday, April 30th
The Victim: Myself. And Julie.
The Damage: Julie paid!
It was my birthday. Yes. My day. Suffice it to say, I spent most of my day celebrating someone else’s day, which is so not so fun when it’s YOUR day and no one remembers that. So I was anxious. And in need of a little celebrating.
Julie suggested a couple of places in her neighborhood, so after jump-starting the world’s lowest mileage 3-year-old Audi convertible, we eventually met up at 8 on Haverstock Hill.
Our first choice, The Hill, was packed. So we headed to The Steele instead.
I have just two words: Mixed crowd.
Loved it. The young, the old, the dirty, the clean. They were all there. And so were we.
I have a new theory about bars with Thai restaurants. They’re associated with the Thai mafia. I betcha that there’s a guy out there selling Thai cooks all over London. The bar gets food, the dude gets 60% of the profit. A good deal.
I ordered my standard: Pad Se Eu. LOVED IT. It was honestly very delicious. My expectations were so, so low. But it was very, very oh so very good. Despite my ban on carbs, I ate it all. Every last bit.
I hate bars that tell me to be wary of my personal belongings. So that’s a big minus about The Steele. But we were tucked in a corner and no one stole anything, so we were fine.
The Verdict: Supposedly, Sadie Frost hangs out here. I wouldn’t bring my parents here, but given their lovely outdoor garden and delicious Thai cuisine, I can see some field trips in my future.
Posted in Bar Food, London, NW3, Thai, United Kingdom | Comments Off