Beef & Brew – Kentish Town, London

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

There’s little I like more in life than audience participation and a strong theme. Beef & Brew ticks those boxes with individual cow gravy boats and a strong focus on meat.

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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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Toomai – West Hampstead, London

I like how the menu at Toomai teaches us so much about the ethos of the restaurant:

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Balthazar – Covent Garden, London

I didn’t plan to spend my evening at Balthazar. I went with a friend to the Lyceum theatre to try and wangle cheap tickets to see the Lion King on the premise that they would be keen to sell them with less than hour before it started. After all, what’s the point in singing Hakuna Matata to a half empty theatre. The box office didn’t seem to share our view and wouldn’t budge lower than £65 so we went on our way.

Where to go for dinner, we wondered. Then all of a sudden Continue reading

Chotto Matte – Soho, London

Chotto Matte is the sort of restaurant where you’re asked by your waitress, “have you been to Chotto Matte before? No? Would you like me to explain the concept?” I must admit I find this ever so slightly pretentious. It’s 7.30pm on a Tuesday night, I had lunch 7 hours ago and I’m quite peckish, surely the concept is just pick something you like the look of, hopefully enjoy your food and your dinner company, and be on your way. Nevertheless, there is a concept at Chotto Matte, a sharing concept. Don’t get me wrong readers, I’m always up for sharing so you get to try more than one dish, but is it really necessary to call it a concept.. Continue reading

XO – Belsize Lane, London

XO has all the chicness of Mayfair but it’s local enough that the thought of going there on a cold Sunday night isn’t daunting. Local is of course subjective, but for those who don’t live in or near the area, luckily XO is part of the Ricker group of restaurants (http://www.rickerrestaurants.com) so has sister pan-Asian restaurants, namely Great Eastern Dining Room in Shoreditch and e&o in Notting Hill. I recently became aware that La Bodega Negra is part of the same group but the vibe, not to the mention the food, is very different. Continue reading