Staying at The Langham, London

Posted by Krista on May 11, 2014

Dude, I was on a Hotwire roll in London. Who doesn’t love a discount? Particularly if the discount gets you a centrally-located luxury hotel like The Langham. Although upon check-in, as you can tell from the video, I wasn’t too enthused about my room — the furniture was ancient but not in a good way and the bathroom was badly in need of an upgrade — by the time I checked out, I was converted. There’s something to be said about staying somewhere with a high level of service.

Here’s what I liked and what I didn’t…

Likes

  • Location. I love Soho so being just a short walk away up Regent Street was perfect for me.
  • My bed was a marshmallow cloud. Seriously, the linens, the pillows, the mattress…the Holy Trinity of beds. Absolutely lovely.
  • The staff. Lovely, everywhere, helpful, funny, sweet, everything.
  • The bar. The bar at The Langham is absolutely gorgeous. I would gladly meet anyone here for a drink or five. Maybe even a mandarin panda drink. It gets way too buzzy and popular in the evenings, but in the afternoon, it is an oasis of calm with lovely and attentive service.
  • Bath products. Many and plentiful and restocked over and over again. I am past the days of collecting hotel bath products, but if you are still in those days, you will love it here.
  • Free wifi. Plentiful and everywhere and always connected. Well done, Langham.
  • Free canapes in the bar! Apparently at 6-something every evening, The Langham celebrates the year of its founding and sends out free canapes to everyone in the bar. NICE.

Dislikes

  • The room was a little dated. The service and the amenities made up for this, but I would generally prefer something a bit more updated.
  • The clientele. OK, this is picky of me but there are some very wealthy people who stay here and they act it, in that new money way. (Is that terrible of me to say that? To talk about new money vs. old?) Not once but twice while waiting for the concierge, I was cut in line by men who totally knew they had cut in front of me and they didn’t give a shoot.

Now all this being said, I did not get a chance to try out the fitness center or the spa. I was out and about for most of my stay. But while I was in my room, I was rolling around in my marshmallow cloud and feeling quite smug that I hadn’t paid $600+ a night for my stay.

The Verdict…And Hotwire Logistics

If you visit London and you like fine things, you should stay here. It’s tremendously lovely. I was lucky and got it via Hotwire. I booked this five-star mystery hotel for $275. 83 a night. At the time of booking, a comparable stay booked directly with the hotel would have been $6334.33, so I saved 56.16%. And I slept in a marshmallow cloud. Fantastic.

Posted in Hotels, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 2 Comments

Logistics & Operations Day, London…Plus…I Turn, uh, 40

Posted by Krista on April 26, 2014

20140426-195404.jpg
I’ve written before about my logistics and operations days. Today was one of them. I did really important stuff. Like LAUNDRY. I found this place on Yelp that washes your clothes for 10 GBP a bag. It’s called Marshall’s Laundry Service and it’s in Soho. And it was awesome. I dropped my stuff off around 10:30 and by 1:30, it was all done. 20 quid for a week’s worth of laundry. (It would have been 10 quid but I wanted the lights separated from the darks. If you think this is expensive, imagine how much my hotel would have charged me. 6.50 GBP for a pair of DRAWERS.)

I also did other really important stuff today. Like get my nails done. Sorry…you can take the girl out of Long Island, but you can’t take the Long Island out of the girl. I found this other place in Soho — also on Yelp —  that does manicures and stuff and I walked in at 10:45 am and they took me immediately and did a shape and polish for 13 quid. They also did my eyebrows. Totaly cost? 19.99 GBP! A huge bargain, by London standards. (Normally, I go to Selfridges for my eyebrows where it costs about 20 quid.) This Soho place isn’t fancy but it does the trick. It’s called The Beauty Lounge and it’s at the bottom of Kingly Court in Soho. They might try to sell  you all sorts of other things, but just say no.

Other things…I went to M&S and bought some new black tights, because M&S is where I get all my black tights. I also went to Boots and bought a million things I really don’t need. Boots is my favorite place.

What else? I checked my blog email. Words really cannot describe how much email I get via my blog. But then again, I just did the math and maybe it’s not that bad. So far, in April alone, my main blog account received somewhere in between 300 and 350 emails. (Sorry, I don’t feel like counting them all to find the number in between…maybe it’s 330?) I haven’t read my blog email all month — bad blogger, I am — but now I am caught up back to April 1. No, I still haven’t ready March or February. (Yes, LIFO.)

In between all this operations and logistics, I had a nice lunch at Antidote, also in Soho. A nice lunch, but that’s all. (Can you tell this was a Soho kind of day?) Oh wait…I should mention…the service was very French and VERY lovely.

Most time-consuming? Finding somewhere to have my 40th birthday party! (Yes, I’m 40. I still feel like I’m the 29 year old that started this blog — or, well, the precursor to this blog — back in 2004 but I will actually turn FORTY next week.) I called and e-mailed every place I could think of in London — with the exception of my favorite, Bob Bob Ricard, because the bar downstairs is apparently closed. The places I called told me to email them. My hotel concierge told me I should have my party at Sketch or Navikov. !!! I said nothing and instead sent all the places I wanted to go the same message:

I am looking to organize birthday drinks on Wednesday, April 30th. Probably 20ish people.I’d like to do something pretty easy and informal…some wines, some snacks, etc. 6:30 to 9:30 pm. (Worried about the tube strike so would like to keep this easy.) Can you oblige?

 No one has responded! I die.

 

Posted in London, United Kingdom, W1 | 3 Comments

The Return to London, Second Part

Posted by Krista on June 30, 2012

Tower BridgeBack to London. And the giant glowing orb in the sky actually cooperated for a moment. Everything was beautiful. (Look closely at Tower Bridge and you can see the Olympic Rings, getting ready for their descent.) I worked well, I ate well, I WALKED well. London is an incredible city to walk in, and I stayed entirely above ground during this part of my visit.

The ZetterI moved into the compact but efficient Zetter in Clerkenwell for five nights. This made me more than a little teary-eyed because I was staying just a few blocks away from my old flat, a flat I lived in for over five years. Amazing how quickly London has changed in the short period I’ve been away.

I liked The Zetter. But the rooms are VERY small. (If you need to stay in this general area, The Hoxton is a bit more spacious.) The Zetter staff were lovely though and the bath products (Ren) were much much better than The Hoxton’s. (The Hoxton is generally cheaper than The Zetter though.) In short, if I could swing it, I might stay here again. But I think The Hoxton might still win out.

Here’s where I ate and drank…

Salvation JaneSalvation Jane, 55 City Road, Shoreditch/City. I was glad to see something useful had finally gone into this strip of City Road. Let’s hope Salvation Jane lasts because the Indian street food place didn’t last long (and there were a lot of bailiffs involved) and then there was that Thai place that was all quite dark and scary and they were always rehabbing the toilets. We had some good coffees at Salvation Jane though, and the service was nice and overall, I like the vibe. The Verdict: Recommended for coffee talk.

The Old Fountain

The Old Fountain, 3 Baldwin Street, Shoreditch: I returned to one of my favorite pubs in London, The Old Fountain, with my friends Gerry & Ben. It was ridiculously different. There were no old men, the carpet had been replaced, and it had been entirely repainted and refurbished. I appreciate gentrification, but I was still a bit sad. That being said, the beer selection was ace and the rooftop was lovely. The Verdict: Recommended if you’re in the area and want to have some beers in a quiet place.

St. John Bar Menu

St. John, 145-57 St. John Street, Clerkenwell. I couldn’t not stop into the bar at St. John for some drinks and snacks. Eccles cake and Lancashire cheese for the win! The Verdict: GO.

Hoxton Beach

Hoxton Beach: Whitecross Street Market, Barbican. You can’t see what’s in there, but it’s the most delicious falafel wrap EVER. I love these guys. I dream about them. And their pickled vegetables. Get a falafel wrap (this is the small) from Hoxton Beach and then head on over to the Two Brewers down by Waitrose for a cheeky pint. The Two Brewers lets you bring in food from the market. Genius idea. The Verdict: Yes to Hoxton Beach!

Grab Thai, 5 Leonard Street, Shoreditch: I think I’ve written about these guys before. Incredibly inexpensive, incredibly delicious. I normally stick to the green chicken curry for lunch. Good times: The Verdict: Cheap and filling and very good lunch. GO.

TramshedTramshed, 32 Rivington Street, Shoreditch. (If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m an East London girl.) I really enjoyed my steak and chips. Couldn’t really complain. I also liked the design of the place and all the tilework. (It’s a Mark Hix place, btw.) Not sure how I felt about Damien Hirst’s preserved cow, but luckily, it’s high enough above the dining room that you don’t have to look at it while you’re eating. The Verdict: Very good.

10 Greek Street10 Greek Street, 10 Greek Street, Soho. I’m somewhere in between on 10 Greek Street. I like the idea of the place and I like that it’s small and I thought all our servers were lovely but try sitting on a bar stool where a creepy man is pressing his sweaty back up against yours repeatedly for 45 minutes and, well, you might just end up feeling a bit UNWELL about everything. The food was very nice, but I drank a lot of white wine to get over my feelings of violation, so I am no good judge. The Verdict: I need to go back. (Talk about the beauty of natural light for photos, huh?)

Pitt CuePitt Cue Co., 1 Newburgh Street. Somehow, during all my wanderings around Soho, I’ve never managed to make it down Newburgh Street. But here I was, hanging out on a street corner, 15 minutes before Pitt Cue opened. I think I might have fallen in love with one of the proprietors while I was waiting. Sigh. I meant to order the pulled pork bun but got the pulled pork meal instead (with a side of baked beans), but it really didn’t matter because it was all pretty excellent. And only 11 quid. The Verdict: GO. But don’t show up with 12 people. They are super super tiny.

The GateThe Gate, 370 St. John Street, Clerkenwell. So here’s my first question…when you KNOW you are going to open a restaurant on St. John Street, WHY do you give it the same name as a  BAR further down on St. John Street? Confusing. Then, when I enter your restaurant, why do you ignore me? And then when you finally take my drink order, why do you walk away in the middle of my conversation? And then when you come to take my order, why do you tell me not to order anything on the menu because it is all going to take a really long time? And then when you come to ask “How is everything?,” why do you walk away before I can even answer??? My dining experience at The Gate is worth a short story of its own. I think you get the gist. They are CRAZY. The weird thing? My asparagus rotolo was weirdly EXCELLENT. The Verdict: I’m afraid to send you here. But the food is really good. (Note entirely vegetarian.)

St. Paul'sWhile I was in town, I also saw the Damien Hirst exhibition at the Tate Modern, which was quite affecting. I’d recommend it. I’m still thinking about it, a week or two later, and I think that’s what art is all about. I also saw the Christian Louboutin exhibit at the Design Museum, and while it’s nice to look at shoes, the exhibit didn’t give you much context about the artist, which was disappointing. There were also a lot of screaming 10 year olds. Who takes 10 year olds to a French shoe exhibit? Odd.

I’ve been thinking lately about trying to get back to London more often. Let me know if anyone is interested in an intermittent flatmate. ;)

P.S. I’m realizing after posting this that I didn’t include Sedap on Old Street or The Modern Pantry on Clerkenwell Road. I revisited both. I still highly recommend Sedap, but I wasn’t too impressed with my watery omelet at The Modern Pantry, unfortunately.

Posted in EC1, Hotels, London, N1, United Kingdom, W1 | 6 Comments

The Dean Street Townhouse, London

Posted by Krista on June 5, 2011

Dean Street Small RoomThe Dean Street Townhouse
Dean Street
London

Date of Last Visit: Late April, 2011

Americans who go abroad often have a problem with European hotel rooms. They are too small, they say, Read TripAdvisor or anything similar and you will find gazillions of my countrymen (sorry — countrypeople) lambasting the size of European hotel rooms.

So let’s just get it out of the way now. My room at The Dean Street Townhouse was small. Pretty small.

But it was also absolutely gorgeous. GORGEOUS.

I want to hire the person who makes the bed to come to my house and iron all my sheets and make my bed every day, so tight and snugly was it done up and so soundly did I sleep here.

When I lived in London, everyone that was up on London and restaurants and drinking establishments knew about The Dean Street Townhouse. Part of Soho House (and Shoreditch House), it was quite hard to ignore. But what people knew about was the restaurant. Not the hotel.  Sascha over at LibertyLondonGirl posted a video review of the hotel quite some time ago, and I remember being charmed by all this small boutique property had to offer. So when it came time to book my birthday stay in London over Royal Wedding Weekend, it was the first place I looked…after I figured out that every other hotel I’d want to stay in was going for more than $600 USD per night. (The Dean Street Townhouse was still not cheap in American terms…£250 or $410 a night. Ouch. Hurts me to think about it in dollars. But in pounds, £250 sounds so much better.)

For a small hotel, Dean Street was jam-packed with amenities. I’ve yet to stay in any other hotel that offers Sky+ to their guests. (That’s Tivo, to my American readers.) There was free-wifi throughout the hotel — even next door in the neighboring restaurant — and even better, there was this…

Dean Street Shower and ProductsSee all those bottles there? Those are Cowshed products. Four different types of body wash to choose from, along with a lovely shampoo and conditioner. FULL SIZE. The conditioner was so good that I bought a bottle before I left. Really…amazing. (I have ridiculously thick hair with a wave that only responds to professionals. — I’m on the 4th week of a very intense Keratin treatment at the moment. — Cowshed’s conditioner tamed it more than any other conditioner I’ve ever tried. Truly.)

Dean Street GoodiesAh and see this…these are all the goodies that maybe you forgot to bring along with you. Like I had forgotten facial cleanser. So I used Cowshed’s. I don’t normally use toner, but as long as I was using the cleanser, I also used the toner and let me tell you…I am now a believer. My skin has never — honestly — felt younger. I don’t understand why the best of hotels don’t provide this sort of amenity basket. The upside from someone like me buying the £18 bottle of conditioner certainly pays for all the products in here. Including the prophylactics. Yes. There were even prophylactics in the basket.

Dean Street RoomThe rest of the room — what admittedly there was of it — was similarly delightfully and thoughtfully put together. Every day, they filled up my tea and biscuit tins. And in the drawers of that cupboard there was not only a Babyliss hair dryer, but also a HAIR STRAIGHTENER. I have never stayed in a hotel before that offers hair straighteners. That’s awesome.

The only downside to my three-night stay here? The floor covering was something rattan-like. I accidentally left a sweater on the floor one night and was picking hay off myself for the next 48 hours.

The Verdict: STAY. NOW. OBEY.

The Damage: Significant. But it was my birthday. So there is that.

Posted in Hotels, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 7 Comments

Gauthier Soho, Soho

Posted by Krista on August 31, 2010

Gauthier
Gauthier Soho
21 Romilly Street
W1D 5AF

Date of Last Visit: Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Victims: Rutton, Kainaz, Richard, Mireia, Al

The Damage: 65 quid each. (Sorry, new American keyboard doesn't have GBP symbol!)

The Background: Less than 48 hours to go before I leave London. The movers and my sea container left earlier that afternoon. It's an odd feeling.

So we meet up at Gauthier Soho to celebrate my impending departure. I ring the doorbell. They let me in. I use the ladies, and then they try to seat me at the table. The table, however, is shoved up against the wall. And they don't seem to think this is a problem. So I start to move the table out myself and they come over to help and inch the table out. Literally. An inch. Not far. I'm perplexed.

I'm even more perplexed when, once we arrange the table to my liking, I sit down at the table and it rocks. Severely. They move the table around again a bit and it seems to be better but not really.

The rest of the gang arrives and it becomes abundantly clear that the table is very unsteady. The staff first tell us that it's impossible to fix because "the floor is old." Um…I think a napkin underneath one of the legs will work acceptably well. The staff prefer to move the table around a bit to find a more even spot of flooring and it's better, but Richard can't put his elbows on the table or all our dishes will go flying.

Odd.

And then things get worse. After all that, the staff ignore us. For a very long time. The only staff member who doesn't ignore us is the water girl and she fills my glass so many times when I've barely had just a sip that I've had to tell her to go away and not come back until I ask her to.

Odd. 
Broad bean soup
But finally we place our orders for our starters. Chilled broad bean soup for me. And I'm glad the soup is cold because it takes 45 minutes for it to arrive anyway.

Odd.

Beef
And then I have the fillet of angus beef, and it's nice. It's good. No complaints.

There were some bright spots to the evening. We put Richard (Italian) in charge of the wines and the wines he selects with the Italian wine steward are unbelievably inexpensive. I was expecting to spend 80 to 90 quid a head, and our meal came to 65 per person. And the summer truffle risotto was amazingly lovely. I should have gotten that instead of the chilled broad bean soup. Oh yes, and we liked the cheese plate. It was very well done. A lot choice. Ah…and they boxed up the sweets at the end of the meal and sent us all home with them. That was VERY nice.

The Verdict: Eh. Too many issues and the bright spots were too few in comparison to the odd spots.

Posted in London, Modern European, United Kingdom, W1 | 4 Comments

Veal Holstein, Bob Bob Ricard

Posted by Krista on July 29, 2010

  Veal holstein
I like veal. A lot. My mother used to make us veal fairly often when we were kids. Mostly veal parmigiana. But also sometimes in a more German/Austrian way, with buttered noodles. Veal is something that I reflect on occasionally and thnk, "Ah, now for veal. For veal, maybe I should cook."

I'll get there….eventually.

I had veal last Tuesday at Bob Bob Ricard in Soho. Veal Holstein. And it was excellent. (In my world, you can never have too much veal. Or anchovies. Or capers. Or secret sauce!) I love BBR for its veal, and for many of its other qualities. We talked about my love at dinner and when asked, "Yes but why?" here's what I came up with.

I had a fantastic time in St. Petersburg and Moscow in 1998 and was pleasantly surprised by the food that I had there. I had had images of old babushkas cackling over black cauldrons sputtering with shanks of unidentified meat. This was absolutely not the case. Instead, we traipsed from one pelmeni place to the next, stuffing ourselves full of dumplings and vodka or dumplings and Baltica or in our soberer moments, dumplings and chai. All thanks to my friend Kim who was teaching English in Russia at the time. (Local knowledge. Important! It brings me back to The awesomely awesome Leicester Square Challenge.) I like the idea of Russia food, all very hearty and cold-weather-like. Root vegetables. Cabbage. Offal. Pancakes. People normally look at me funny and laugh when I say this, much like I look at people (mostly American tourists) funny when they tell me that British food is terrible.

But it's true. Get to know Russian food through an expert, and it's quite enjoyable.

I also like that BBR is different. As much as I love "local, seasonal, sustainable" at any good gastropub, at this time of year, there's only so much asparagus and strawberries a gal can eat. 

Many have critiqued BBR for its quirkiness. Its pink-jacketed waiters. Its over-the-topness. (Is it, as someone recently told me, London's most expensive restaurant build-out?)

But that's what I love about it. There is the champagne button. And I will press it. I can order vodka by the glass–straight–and no one will look at me funny. I can gorge myself on quails' eggs, as they seem to come with every dish. And apparently, according to Bob, if I decide to dump all my beluga caviar down the bathroom sink, no one will care. (Just like no one blinked an eye when my friend Brian smashed his rhubarb gin and tonic all over the restaurant the other month.)

Ah, and did I mention that they've capped their mark-ups on wine? This is nearly unheard of in this country and in this business!

Running a restaurant is hard work. And financial success is an elusive game. I know this second-hand through my investment in the Rose & Crown in Great Horkesley. So I give BBR a lot of credit for doing what they do and doing it with a smile and so well. Long may then continue. Now if only I could convince Leonid (aka Bob) to open up a pelmeni joint…

I paid £39.50 + service for this meal, along with many other London bloggers. I think this is another reason why I love BBR. This was not one of those, "Come review my restaurant and I will feed you for free" types of events. But rather it was a "Let's organize a very fun dinner for many bloggers at a reasonable price and I hope you will like it and if you write about it, well, that would be kind of you" type of thing. Leonid gets it. This is good.

Posted in London, Russian, United Kingdom, W1 | 3 Comments

Tea at Brown’s, Mayfair

Posted by Krista on July 28, 2010

  Tea at browns
Brown's
30 Albemarle Street
W1S 4BP

Date of Last Visit: Saturday, 17 July 2010

The Victims: Muna, Lee, Jen, Tracey

The Damage: £50 each but we paid for Muna because she is having a baby!

The Background: Muna is having a baby! So we're throwing her a baby shower, as all good American women do. Dressed in our Sunday finest (even though it's Saturday and even though I was probably a bit more casual than I meant to be), we converged on Brown's for some tea and more importantly, CAKE.

  Tea at browns cup
The Entrance: We're shown to the tea room which reminds me of the tea room at The Berkeley. It's a slightly masculine place and could easily double as bar space. This is fine with me, but I just thought I'd mention it.

  Tea at browns sandwiches
They have salt beef sandwiches. Ingenious! I love these so much, I ask for another plate of just salt beef. The salmon is also quite nice. But really, I focused on the salt beef. And skipped the egg mayo.

  Tea at browns scones
We all agree that the scones are amazingly good. Moist. Dense, but still fluffy at the same time if that's possible. Rich. We ask for more of these as well. I limit myself to two and go back to the salt beef.

  Tea at browns sweets
And of course, the sweets. I limited myself to two mango and passion fruit macarons, which were lovely, and a lemon and polenta cake, which was also fantastic. The cake had a knob of lemon cream in the middle, and that raspberry couldn't have been more perfect. When I got home that day, I googled lemon polenta cake, determined to get around to making one at some point. 

The Verdict: Loved tea at Brown's. I've only done high tea three times, but this surpasses The Ritz and The Berkeley in my memory.

Posted in London, United Kingdom, Very British, W1 | 13 Comments

Princess Garden, Mayfair

Posted by Krista on March 31, 2010

Princess garden 
Princess Garden
8-10 North Audley Street
W1K 6ZD

Date of Last Visit: Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Victims: QueeLim, Reiko

The Damage: £15 each

The Background: I love dim sum. But I know very little about it. I just know how to point at things that look good. Oh, and I also know that every time I point at char sui buns, I accidentally eat the rice paper on the bottom and (not surprisingly) find the buns dry and disappointing.

At Princess Garden, there are no dim sum trolleys. This makes me sad, because I do like to point at things. (And laugh. Point and laugh. Point and laugh.) So instead, I put myself in QueeLim's hands and let him do the ordering.

Princess garden char sui bun 
So let's start there. Char sui buns. Dense, somewhat flavorless bread, surrounding marinated pork. Princess Gardens' chair sui buns are much better examples than those I've tasted elsewhere. And I didn't eat the rice paper.

Princess garden dim sum start 
I could be wrong, but I believe these were the Shredded Mooli Cakes (radish cakes) and the Shredded Taro Pancakes. (Not sure which is which, however.) I discovered taro–a kinda purplish potato root type of thing–during two weeks in China in 2000 and really really like it. I was ready to order more of these.

Princess garden dim sum more copy 
And I enjoyed whatever this was too. (Please enlighten me.) Although I looked fairly stupid trying to use my chopsticks to grab these.

 Princess garden prawn dumplings 
The prawn dumplings were okay, but I think we let them sit too long before eating them. They were nothing to write home about.

Princess garden noodles 
I really wanted some noodles, but I was not pleased with these. Too gloopy. And this was our server's recommendation. The crunchy noodles were meant to melt under the meat and the sauce, but at the end, they just tasted like raw noodles.

The Verdict: Dim sum–it's like a surprise every time! But I wasn't over the moon about Princess Garden. That being said, we started off really strong with those mooli cakes and the taro and I would gladly go back for more of those. Maybe they do take-out? Would that be weird if I just showed up and asked for the mooli cakes and taro to go?

Princess Garden on Urbanspoon

Posted in Chinese, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 11 Comments

Bob Bob Ricard, Soho

Posted by Krista on March 30, 2010

Bobbobricard bar

Bob Bob Ricard
1-3 Upper James Street
London W1F 9DF

Date of Last Visit: Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Victim: Me

The Damage: £50

The Background: Somehow, I don’t really feel the need to write this post. Because you know, my blogging comrade Chris Pople has said it all very beautifully right over here. (Favorite line: “The pickled herring and boiled potato was as good as I barely remember…” which is actually a compliment. You must read the whole post for context.)

But just like those people who throw that 12-bullet-point-PowerPoint slide up there and say, “I’m not going to read you all 12 points on this slide”–and then proceed to do exactly that–I am going to write this post. I am going to attempt–perhaps in vain–to communicate the depth (depths?) of my new-found love for the quirky goldenness of Soho’s Russian pleasure-palace, where the vodka is cold, the gin comes with rhubarb, and there can never be too much champagne.

Bobbobricard herring
Ah, herring! When I think herring, I am reminded of my Irish-American father, standing in the darkened kitchen with the refrigerator door open, fork in one hand, jar of herring and mayonnaise in the other. This is not an all-together pretty memory, but it’s a memory nonetheless. MY memory.

But at Bob Bob Ricard, the herring is not served in a jar, and there’s no mayo in sight. The fillets are FAT. Really plump. Salty and savory and served cold, this is the best herring I’ve ever had. (And having met my fair share of Swedish exchange students and their herring and knäckebröd, that’s saying a lot.) There’s a perfectly soft-boiled quail’s egg there, and a salad of beetroot and apple that I think about for days afterwords. (Beetroot! Beetroot which I have hated with a passion for nearly all of my life.) I think Bob Bob Ricard had ruined me for herring (and beetroot) forever.

And then there’s the crabcake. A dense, dense, all crab crabcake, served with another quail’s egg (sunny side up, this time). No potato filler anywhere to be seen. And it seems to be, to my untrained palate, all brown meat. Lush.

And then besides for the CHAMPAGNE BUTTON, there are the other things that people don’t tell you about. The butter is stamped with the BBR logo. There are coat racks built into the booths. (Perfect for neurotic New Yorkers like me who are always convinced someone is going to steal their Oyster Card.) There are booths for one. For one! (I have stolen a booth for four, myself.) Champagne is delivered within 90 seconds of me pressing the champagne button. (Although staff later admit that some nights, all the champagne buttons light up all at once and it can be hard to keep up.)

Ricard
Downstairs, the floor is a backgammon board. There’s a chair that says Bob. And another that says Ricard. Upstairs, there is wallpaper (or is that carpet?) on the ceiling. The staff are all in deliciously delicious pink jackets. I’m thrown back to the Greek diners on Long Island, where the waiters wore tuxedos in the old days and called all us girls Miss as we downed our strawberry milkshakes and fries.

I inquire about wireless access.

It’s coming soon, they promise.

This is good, because I might just be moving in.

The Verdict: They’re open 13 hours a day. Surely, you can find some time to drop by. Look for me. I might be there. But I might also try to get out of paying the 50p surcharge for bread. 50p! WTF?

Bob Bob Ricard on Urbanspoon

Posted in London, Russian, United Kingdom, W1 | 11 Comments

Byron at the Intrepid Fox, Soho

Posted by Krista on March 17, 2010

Byron burger 
Byron at The Intrepid Fox
97 Wardour Street
W1F 0UD

Date of Last Visit: Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Victims: Mireia, John

The Damage: £12 or so each?

The Background: So it's Day 2 of my photography class and again, I get to pick the lunch place. Fantastic. So Byron's it is. I've been craving a burger since my fantastic example at Rockit in Chicago earlier in the month–19 very well-spent dollars worth of Kobe beef. (Brief Chicago round-up coming up. Don't worry–won't bore you with multiple single posts. I'm going to do one big summary.)

The Entrance: Bryron at The Intrepid Fox is NOT fast food. We are shown to a table and given a menu and after what seems like hours later, someone finally comes to take our order.

Then, after what seems like even more hours later but was only 20 minutes (still longer than I expected), our food finally arrives. Burgers for me and John. Salad for Mireia. (She's so good.)

And the burger is GOOD. Really good. Perfect medium. Great flavor. Perhaps the only fault is that the bun just isn't toasted enough for me. By the end of my burger, I'm holding a bit of a soggy, bready mess. But you know what? I really didn't mind.

The Verdict: Cheaper than The Hawsmoor burger. Juicier. More informal. Good times, but still no American cheese. Seriously…my kingdom for some Kraft Singles!

Byron on Urbanspoon

Posted in American, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 7 Comments

Mooli’s, Soho

Posted by Krista on March 15, 2010

Moolis 
Mooli's
50 Frith Street
W1D 4SQ (They need to capitalize on their Foursquare postcode!)

Date of Last Visit: Saturday, February 20th, 2010

The Victims: Nigel, John

The Damage: CHEAP. Like £6 or £7? (With just tap water, happily provided.)

The Background: My friend Mireia and I have been taking some photography classes at the London School of Photography. Let's hope it rubs off. During our intro course, I kept trying to get her and our other friend Larry to come out to dinner with me every night after class. Denied! Too tired, too busy. (To be fair, so was I. Dinner always sounded great at 6:30 p.m. But after three hours of class, I just wanted to go home.)

Luckily during our weekend course, I found some willing victims, and suggested to John and Nigel that we check out Mooli's during our lunch break. (Mireia had to zip off to a fashion show, where her champagne Champagne Penet Chardonnet was being served.)

Moolis inside 
Mooli's is bright and fun and cheerful. So too are the staff, who applauded my "advanced" selection of the mini goat mooli. Why goat is not more popular, I don't know. At some point last year, I declared 2009 the Year of the Goat, but it never came to fruition. Maybe that will happen this year. Friends, embrace goat. It's delicious. (I've just checked the Mooli's Web site and there's a big announcement strapped across it…The goat mooli is now available! See…all the cool kids obviously like it.)

I round out my order with a pork mooli.

The Food: I have no clue what was in the goat Mooli. Besides for the goat. But whatever it was, it was freaking delicious. The pork was good too, but simply not as delicious. (And it was a bit messier, which was no one's fault but mine.)

John and Nigel–who I don't even know–kept saying how cool the place was and how good the food is and what a great choice this was.

And I agree.

The Verdict: Love Mooli's! Love having two great meals withing 24 hours. (Kikuchi and here.) Food gods, smiling upon me.

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Posted in Indian, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 3 Comments

Kikuchi, Tottenham Court

Posted by Krista on March 12, 2010

Kikuchi tea 
Kikuchi
14 Hanway Street
W1P 9DD

Date of Last Visit: Friday, February 19th

The Victim: Rutton

The Damage: Uh, £70 each. Blame the sake.

The Background: I haven't seen Rutton since the wedding. HIS wedding. So we make plans to meet up. I think maybe Roka, but something in me wants something less "all that." I just want sushi. I don't want pretty cocktails. I also want to give Rutton shit for putting me at the singles' table at his wedding. The single GIRLS' table. WTF?

The Arrival: Irasshaimase!!! Many times over. I've picked the right place. I'm shown our table and try to order a drink. There's a language barrier. I love Kikuchi already. Eventually, a beer arrives.

Kikuchi tempura 
The Food: There was a lot of it, and I didn't take pictures of everything. I liked the tempura, even the mushrooms. (New readers: I generally don't like mushrooms. Or grapefruit. But luckily, there was no grapefruit here.) Was not the hugest fan of the chicken yakitori, but I think that's just because I don't really like working for my food. Loved the gomae. And the cod.

Kikuchi sushi 
And then there was the sushi, and lovely it was. I went straight for the mackeral. Fresh. Generous cuts. Perfect.

Why I Came Here: Nuno told me to.

The Verdict: Loved, loved, loved Kikuchi. And they gave me a voucher for my next visit! You know I'm a sucker.

Kikuchi on Urbanspoon

Posted in Japanese, London, United Kingdom, W1 | 7 Comments