Roganic

As chefs off the TV go, Simon Rogan is a good egg. He hasn’t assaulted his staff; he isn’t the face of a leading stock-cube brand; nor has he tried to sell Christmas dinner for £125K. With a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, Simon is the sort of chef you’d be happy to bring home to your mum. Roganic, a little sister – if you will – to Cumbria’s L’Enclume, is his two-year pop-up restaurant in Marylebone. And it’s bloody good. Continue reading

Naamaste Kitchen

June in Camden. Not quite April in Paris, but it’ll do. Satisfaction hasn’t been found in any of my visits to Indian restaurants recently: Dishoom was bland and Trishna overrated. Famous sub-continental hospitality has been non existent, and I’ve been having nightmares about Saag Aloo ever since. Namaaste Kitchen, a lazy stroll from Camden Town tube, is the second restaurant from ex-Chutney Mary chef Sabir Karim. It’s something of a hidden gem in blogging circles, despite Fay Maschler and Matthew Norman’s definite praise. Aside from tourist traps and greasy spoons, I suppose Camden is something of a foodie Bermuda Triangle. But were we lost at sea at Namaaste Kitchen?

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John Salt

When the star chef (Ben Spalding) leaves just a few months into the opening of your new restaurant (booked-up weeks in advance, I might add) you’d be forgiven if things went down the pan. But, magically, things haven’t gone that way at John Salt. Whilst it might not be possible to have Spalding’s Chicken on a Brick‘ any longer, you can, however, sample a range of delights from new head chef, Neil Rankin. There’s no pomp and chefery here. What you get is a new take on unfussy, home-style cooking – but it’s not the place to take your grandmother…

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Trishna

On the whole, the Michelin guide is a safe place to consult when looking for somewhere to eat out. For a consistently good meal, forget twos and threes, and stick with the cheaper, humbler one star. Undoubtedly, the ‘little red book’ gives preference to European food, so when South West Indian seafood specialist Trishna gained a star (and subsequent blog appeal) in October 2012 for its foodie fireworks, I felt I ought to give it a try. Continue reading

Naamyaa Cafe

On the eighth day, God created brunch. And He saw that it was good. And He loosened his belt, and He rested. Brunch is on the rise, it seems. Neither breakfast, nor lunch, it caters for those like me – the interminably picky. What better way to start the weekend than with an assortment of breakfast/lunch items that really should never be seen together on a plate. But whilst everyone’s at it, brunch always leaves me wanting more. Metaphorically. Could Alan Yau‘s Naamyaa Cafe (of Wagamama/Hakkasan/Yautacha/etc fame) sate the insatiable? Continue reading

Little Social

It might strike you as a little surprising that someone would open their new restaurant right opposite their old one. . . but when that someone is Jason Atherton, you don’t need to worry. Pollen Street Social was the Big Daddy of 2012 eating for me, so I certainly wasn’t going to turn down an invitation to Atherton’s latest venture, Little Social. Forget the sleek, chic PSS. Little Social is all about comfort: tucking your serviette into your collar, drinking a bottle of the excellent house wine, and getting stuck in to some hearty food. Continue reading

The Square

I don’t like Mondays just as much as the Boomtown Rats. Nor does the restaurant industry. Everyone’s back to work, the markets are closed, and no one goes out to eat. Indeed, the best places are often shut at the beginning of the week. Not, however, The Square. I’d read praise for it as having “flawless” service, serving up “sophisticated” food, with Phillip Howard‘s restaurant being “the best of its type”. An excellent reputation demands high expectations. On the Monday I went, I experienced nothing to such acclaim. I have to ask: Where was our fantastic meal that everybody else is having? Continue reading

Pollen Street Social

Whether you’re a lover or a hater, you cannot deny that Gordon Ramsay has influenced some of the finest British chefs around. Without Ramsay there’d be no Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, neither Angela Hartnett’s Murano, nor Jason Atherton’s Pollen Street Social. Now, however, each chef has left the Ramsay nest, and seems much the better for it. They’ve realised that the old dog has given up on the new tricks, and it’s time for them to shine. And indeed they do. This week there are no quips, no jibes, and no cynicism. Pollen Street Social is my favourite restaurant in London. Well, probably. Continue reading

Donostia

November is a miserable month, isn’t it? The sun has kicked the bucket, it’s shuffled off this mortal coil. It is no more. You get the picture. You’d have thought it bold to open a tapas bar in London when at least two great Spanish restaurants reign. The Hart brothers’ Fino and Barrafina have, for years, fed the capital’s foodies with excellent Iberico ham, croquettas, and tortillas. However, Nemanja Borjanovic and Melody Adams have decided to brave the inclement weather and open a stylish Basque tapas place in Marylebone. Whilst the forecast at Donostia is generally sunny, there will be some wet spells here and there. No matter. A little drizzle won’t ruin your evening. Continue reading

Dishoom

Dishoom can be translated as that Bollywood sound effect heard when someone is punched. ‘Pow!’, in another word. This might seem a strange name for a restaurant, but when you walk through the door your nose is indeed hit by that wonderful aroma of gently-frying spices. If this isn’t enough on a Sunday morning to get your tastebuds going then I’m not sure what is. However, breakfast at home at a weekend is difficult to beat: eggs with a kiss, toast with a hug, and bacon crisped within an inch of its life – that’s mine please if anyone’s listening. But it’s still worth trying to beat it with a morning trip to an Indian restaurant, nonetheless. Hindus are well-known for their reverence and utmost respect for cows, to the extent that daily life can grind to a halt to ensure that the animals are wholly satisfied. It’s rather ironic, therefore, that at Dishoom diners are treated like cattle. Continue reading