Frederick’s, 106 Camden Passage, Islington, N1 8EG; Tube: Angell; Tel: 020 7359 2888
Friday, July 27, 2007
Japan Centre, 212 Piccadilly, W1J 9HX; Tube: Picadilly
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
My companion's frog's legs are some of the juiciest and least greasy I've ever tasted. My deep fried camembert comes in generous chunks of glorious gooey-ness, nicely balanced by cranberry jam and a crisp salad. For the mains we order a bottle of chilled Burgundy (£16) - this is a place to linger. All the while, a guitarist and a masterful violinist play jazzy tunes. It's beautiful, and the room is quite enough to hear each note. But it's also relaxed, with guests free to indulge in quiet chatter. The boeuf bourgignon (£10)came in a deceptively small pot which ended being too generous for me to finish. The meat was tender (though a bit gristly), and I enjoyed dunking bread into the herby red wine sauce.
My companion opted for the crocodile burgers (£11) - these were juicy patties of white meat (not unlike chicken, to resort to an old cliche, but more flavoursome), served sans bun, but with salad and a few crispy potato wedges. Thoughts of the long trip home and of work the next day dragged us reluctantly homeward about 11pm. Next time we're resolved to try the Tuesday jam session. All in all, it's a lovely place for a romantic night or with a small group of jazz-lovers. Just beware of the £5 cover charge after 8pm and of the £4.50 bottled water (but they are part of the tastelondon scheme, so you can offset the water damage if you are a member). As for the owner, she may have just been having a bad day - some of the other reviews rave about how nice the staff are.
Le Quecumbar, 42-44 Battersea High Street, SW11 3HX; Tel. 020 7787 2227 after 6pm; Rail: Clapham Junction; www.quecumbar.co.uk
Friday, July 13, 2007
But there are compensations in the funky Caribbean decor inside, the delicious food and an interesting cocktail list. I chose a mixed fish grill (£12.50). The plate was piled high with red snapper (jerked), jack fish, parrot fish (which had a green and rather parrot-like tail!) and luscious bits of pink octopus. There was also sweet, fried plantain and a bowl of rice and beans with a spicy sauce. I washed the spiciness down with beer, while some of my companions sampled the cocktails (around £6). However, the Caribbean vibe extends right down to the service - great if you want to linger, not so good if you are trying to eat dinner in a a bit over an hour. Sunday nights feature soul music, so I'd like to return for a leisurely end to the weekend sometime.
Cottons, 70 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell, EC1R 4QP; Tel. 020 78333332; Tube: Farringdon or Angel; www.cottons-restaurant.co.uk
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Upper Glas -- a new Swedish place above the Islington antiques market. I wanted to like it, being a fan of all things Scandinavian (apart from the queues at Ikea). It was a very light, summery kind of place, but lacking in atmosphere as we were the only diners. The service was friendly, but the waitress tended to disappear when we needed her. The menu is short, and you can pick, tapas-style, which dishes you want to come in big portions and which in small. Overall for me though I didn't enjoy the food that much, though this was probably my fault for over-ordering the pickled fish (I do like herring, but turns out not that much). 359 Upper Street; Tube: Angel
Royal Inn on the Park - a well-located pub just outside Victoria Park. Big garden, decent grub and good selection of beers. Perfect for a lazy afternoon. 111 Lauriston Road, E9 7HJ; Tube: Bethnal Green
Mirch Masala - amazing onion bhajees and generally good Indian grub in an unpretentious cafe-style BYO place in Whitechapel.. 111-113 Commercial Road, E1 1RD; Tube: Whitechapel
Bleeding Heart Great French food and New Zealand wines from their own vineyard, and a murder story to read on the back of the menu if your date's boring. What more could you ask for? If someone else is paying, go for the "restaurant" in the cellars. Otherwise opt for the pub bit or the more elegant eating room on the floor below.. Bleeding Heart Yard, Greville Street, EC1N 8SJ; Tube: Farringdon
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Perhaps it's the Bowler's location (hidden down a side road just off the buzzing Exmouth Market) that has caused it, by our rough estimate, to change owners four times in as many years. One particularly dodgy incarnation featured it painted bright pink on the outside with the atmosphere of a rough council estate pub on the inside. Now though it is a much more pleasant shade of dark green and the interior (and clientele) have changed beyond all recognition. The room is light, with wooden tables and brightly coloured flowery, swirly paintings on the walls -- with cleverly matched lamp shades attached to each one. The menu is short and simple -- about five light bites like chips and nachos, and about 10 mains. Trying to be healthy, I resisted the temptation of baked camembert with mushrooms, bread and gherkins (will have to come back and try it another time!), and opted for the lower-calorie-sounding duck breast in honey sauce with greens (£7.95). The duck was browner than I would have liked, but tasty enough, and the greens were lovely. But sadly it was all drowned in the yucky (a very technical restaurant reviewing term) sweet sauce and I could not finish it. My companion though struck gold with the steak sandwich -- a veritable bargain at £4.95. A baguette came piled with rate slices of beef, lovely sun-dried tomatoes and caramelised onions, accompanied by a large mountain of onions. And I was more than happy to fill up on the chips (billed as Belgian, £2.80), which were thin, clearly home-made and deliciously crispy. A bottle of viognier (£13.25) was a delicious accompaniment to the bargain-priced meal, and we left determined to return.
The pub offers 15% off the total bill to holders of the Wedge Card www.wedgecard.co.uk. I've never heard of it before, but a quick look at the website suggests that it's a much better bet than the www.tastelondon.co.uk bit of plastic. The Wedge is the brainchild of the guy who launched Big Issue, it costs £20 with half the cash going to a charity of your choice and it offers discounts at loads of (small, local, non-chain) shops as well as bars, clubs and restaurants.
The Bowler, 28-32 Bowling Green Lane, EC1R 0BJ; Tube. Angel or Farringdon
Monday, July 02, 2007
The Green, 29 Clerkenwell Green, EC1R 0DU; Tel.020 74908010; www.thegreenec1.co.uk; Tube/Train: Farringdon