My husband and I found Mahdi, the Persian restaurant in Hammersmith (London) by chance, many years ago, when my cousins came to visit us. It was a beautiful Friday summery evening so we decided to go for a stroll along the Thames. We intended to have dinner at a gastro, but on our way there we were drawn into Mahdi by the deliciously inviting smell of their Iranian bread freshly made in their tandoor-style oven. Over the years, Mahdi still remains a favourite local cheap-eats—it’s great value for money, consistently good and does not disappoint.
I’ve been visiting Big Easy for a long time, ever since I moved to London so many years ago, but always the Chelsea branch. I do like lobsters and Big Easy on King’s Road became my go-to place whenever I fancied somewhere affordable, where I could devouring a lobster and enjoying a nice cocktail or two. This has become a long-lasting tradition of mine, way before the day when the first Burger & Lobster restaurant opened in London’s Mayfair (in December 2011) and soon started multiplying and taking over the London lobster scene.
Big Easy Covent Garden opened its doors in March 2014, so it’s not brand new, but is still extremely popular and booking is highly recommended to avoid disappointment, despite it’s 300 covers at any time. (At least they accept reservations, which is a lot better than so many other trendy restaurants in central London these days.) Once you have walked through the long tunnel from the main entrance, the restaurant suddenly opens up. The place is big, and ticks all the boxes for a good American eatery—metal cages, wooden blocks, low-hanging light shades, dark ambient lighting… It has quite an industrial feel, rightfully making homage to its past—the venue was previously the original home of the Charing Cross & Strand Electricity Supply Corporation. I cannot fault the decor of Big Easy Covent Garden—after all, interior here was all designed by Macaulay Sinclair, who are responsible for the fantastic interiors at Hawksmoor.
BBQ Special #3—yes, we have visited 3 American-style BBQ restaurants in London within a couple of weeks—great for a direct comparison, but perhaps not so good for my waistline (hence my more-frequent-than-usual gym visits). This time we have come to west London, for a change of scene, to the Meat & Shake Southern Barbecue in Ealing, a “new kid in the block”. What makes this restaurant chain quite appealing is that they are halal, making them suitable for the friend we are meeting up with tonight.
Unlike Bodean’s and Red’s True BBQ, there are no animal skulls on the wall at Meat & Shake. The decors here are simple and vibrant; quite a relax vibe. Good choices of music playing at the background—Kings of Leon, “Tetra” by C2C, a bit of “Sweet Home Alabama”… you get the gist.
In the not-so-distant past, the idea of burgers and ribs would equate to fast-food to most people. Not any more. In the last few years, fashionable BBQ restaurant chains have opened their doors to hungry diners all over London and beyond, and the number is growing.
A couple of weeks ago, we went to Bodean’s Old Street, which I blogged about here. Tonight, 8 of us are having a gathering and we have come to Red’s True BBQ in trendy Shoreditch, which has only been open since July.
It’s finally the day! I’ve been dying to visit an Ottolenghi restaurant for a couple of years now. I found Yotam Ottolenghi an extremely fascinating chef, who moved to the UK from Isreal in 1997 with the plan to start a PhD, but ended up signing up to a six-month course at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London (and never looked back). Shameful to admit that we haven’t managed to make it happen—not sure why—until tonight. Tonight, my husband and I are dining at Ottolenghi Islington—finally taking advantage of a generous wedding gift from my husband’s ex-boss and his wife (thank you so much Dan and Kate!)
Some may call it a posh deli, no more than an overpriced salad bar. Yes, it has received a lukewarm review or two in the past—I’ve read them—but did not let them put me off. Boy, am I glad I didn’t. As soon as I walked in the door I was impressed by what I saw—a beautiful window display full of sweet treats—a real feast for the eyes. Don’t let the no-fuss, friendly atmosphere fool you. The setting may be somewhat casual, you may get assigned to sit at the long communal tables, shared with other guests (yes, I can see how this can be far from ideal for some). But foods here are far from simple. 15 tapas-style savoury dishes on offer tonight—7 form the counter (cold dishes); 8 from the kitchen (hot plates)—they mean serious business. All are the result of serious consideration of balanced flavours, food rooted in Ottolenghi’s native Israeli upbringing, influenced by a wider range of incredible textures and flavours from the Mediterranean, Middle East and Asia. Small portions; huge flavours. Continue reading “Ottolenghi”
It was seven O’clock on a Friday eve. We found ourselves in Old Street, a lively area of Central East London. We were here to give our friend a proper send-off before he ran off to Oz, to start a business to build energy storage systems for the home, from discarded cells (Relectrify.com). Good for him!
Tonight was particularly bustling. People everywhere. Not just because it was a Friday, tonight was the start of the RWC 2015—Opening Ceremony followed by England’s first pool match against Fiji! After a few pints at the pub, we couldn’t resist our rumbling stomaches any longer and a liquid dinner just wouldn’t cut it. We unanimously decided to have a change of scene and move on to somewhere good to get a bite to eat.
It’s time for a second Supper Club group gathering. Where to go? It had to be Al Boccon Di’ vino(aka, the ‘divine mouthful’)! It’s a casual family-run Italian restaurant hidden in Richmond (the beautiful suburban town of Southwest London). Upon entering this little gem, you will be instantly transferred from the hustle and bustle of your daily London life into an intimate osteria hidden in one of the maze of alleys of Venice. I I first heard about Al Boccon Di’vino from a couple of family friends who used to live in Richmond, and had nothing but great things to say about this unique little place. I was properly introduced to the restaurant when one of my colleagues organised a little get-together and invited me – you guessed it, I jumped on the opportunity and thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course, this would make a perfect spot for our second Supper Club outing! What’s so special about this place you ask? 1) The restaurant is very intimate – only about a handful of tables and offers one sitting per meal-time. 2) There is no menu – you simply let them know what you do or do not eat. 3) Like wine? Sure, just choose the colour and it won’t go wrong. 4) The team consisted of the larger-than-life chef-owner (Riccardo Grigolo), the lovely Simona Gilmeanu and their catering staff will make sure you feel like part of their family and guarantee you a bloody great time! Do you need more reasons? No? Great. Oh, two words of advice though: come hungry. Continue reading “Living it Large: Al Boccon Di’ vino”
I have always been a fan of Jason Atherton, ever since experiencing his extravagantly indulgent Signature 5-Course Chef’s Tasting Menu (with a kitchen tour as an added bonus) at Maze. When Chef Atherton left Gordon Ramsay Holdings to launch his own restaurant group, The Social Company, our loyalty followed him and his expeditiously growing success. Little Social was our second visit to a Social Company restaurant and believe it or not, in a way we had managed to stumbled on it unintentionally. Continue reading “Little Social, Big Flavours”
The idea of Supper Club materialised just in time my need for exploring more of the London dining scene, when one of my husband’s colleagues organised a trip to the theatre-land of the West End for “The Importance of Being Earnest”. What a perfect opportunity (and excuse) to have a group of wonderful people (who I don’t know) grabbing a bite to eat together and getting to know each other. Introducing Supper Club; first stop Belgo Centraal, which offers uncomplicated yet delicious Belgian delicacies.