Winnicott – Bermondsey, London

Can you book? No
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Price paid per person: £12

There’s a fire, pizzas for £10 (or £5 if you go on a half price day), a piano which they let me play and it’s opposite the Thames. Need I say more?

Previously known as the Old Justice, the Winnicott reopened in September with a new name and having reverted to a more traditional local community pub. I’m told there is now cask real ale and a selection of locally brewed craft beers. It’s full of charm and cosiness.

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Portland – Fitzrovia, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 10/10
Atmosphere: 9/10
Price per person: £40

I once read that Giles Coren disagrees with serving bread before a meal. I don’t have a Times subscription so can’t read his review of Portland but I imagine he retracted that comment after trying Portland’s warm crusty bread served with ox heart butter. I didn’t know what to expect but suffice to say it will now be difficult, albeit more practical, to go back to butter that hasn’t been adorned with shavings of ox heart.

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Ivy Market Grill – Covent Garden, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 3/10
Atmosphere: 7/10
Price paid per person: £27

I’ve never actually eaten at the Ivy (the real one), but given how popular (and expensive) it is I assumed its latest offspring, Ivy Market Grill would be pretty good. How wrong I was!

The surroundings are pleasant; it’s buzzy, the decor is full of oppulent velvets and dark rich colours, you feel very in the action and the crowd is glamorous. The food, however, was disappointing and I had a bad feeling as soon as I looked at the menu. Absolutely nothing excited me, and you should be able to pick up a menu and feel torn between at least two options, leaving the restaurant worrying that you may have missed out and planing ahead to your next visit to try more dishes. Continue reading

Berber & Q – Haggerston, London

Can you book? No (but the wait is pleasant and not too long)
Food: 10/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Price paid per person: £40

I emailed Berber & Q a few weeks before going to ask if they would consider bending their ‘no reservations’ policy, for no real reason other than fear of being turned away and sulking all the way home. They said no, but in a very friendly way, so we made it our business to get there early last Saturday evening and arrived just before 7pm. It isn’t a large restaurant, there are two sharing tables running along the centre, another five or so smaller tables against the wall and a few seats at the bar. We were told the wait could be up to an hour so put our names on the list and were advised to enjoy a cocktail either at the bar or either of the next door bars but to stay close as we would receive a call. Continue reading

North London Tavern – Kilburn, London

Can you book? No
Food: 6/10
Atmosphere: 5/10
Price paid per person: £35

My latest offering is a collaborative effort brought to you by myself and an excellent group of local restaurant goers, namely Jonathan, Nicky, Tom and Philip. Featuring in West Hampstead Life magazine…

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North London Tavern; a tavern, in North London (Kilburn to be precise) offering “traditional British meals.” It has recently been refurbished but I am glad that the ambience has not changed. It is still busy, friendly and noisy with intellectual conversation. Continue reading

Shoe Shop – Tufnell Park, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 9/10
Atmosphere: 6/10
Price paid per person: £30

Shoe Shop is a new(ish) restaurant just a minute away from Tufnell Park tube station. There are very few tables, little ornamentation and no music (if I remember correctly). So if the food had been disappointing, it wouldn’t have had any saving graces. Luckily this wasn’t the case and the food was very good!
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Parlour – Kensal Rise, London

Can you book? Yes
Food: 8/10
Atmosphere: 8/10
Price paid per person: £17

“Guys, help yourself to toast over on the bread table. Any spread you could imagine. Only £1.” Well if that isn’t a good start to a brunch I don’t know what is.

I just had a hearty breakfast at Parlour in Kensal Rise (next door to well known Paradise). I had smoked salmon with “that soda bread” to quote the menu, and side of mashed avocado. The soda bread did actually warrant its prefix; it was warm, crispy on the outside but fluffy on the inside and really tasty. The smoked salmon was good quality and the mashed avocado seasoned well. Continue reading