The Wharf – Gabriel’s Wharf

Situated in a converted boat house at Gabriel’s Wharf, one of The Wharf restaurant’s finest assets is its view over the River Thames towards St. Paul’s Cathedral and the changing skyline of East London.

There’s nothing quite so relaxing as sitting on the terrace here on a summer evening, watching the sun go down while the light and shadows go soft over the City, from Blackfriars across to the Leadenhall Building (cheesegrater).

Riverside view from The Wharf at Gabriel’s Wharf

Part of The Pizza Express group, The Wharf is positioned as a seafood restaurant and has a more independent feel than its high street relations.

Sipping a bottle of prosecco @ £22.00, we watch the world go by and enjoy the view while leisurely reading the menu that offers the likes of fresh daily fish, fish and chips, moules-frites, tempting warm salads, as well as pasta, steaks and burgers.

Seared tuna steak salad @ £15.95

We all order a seared tuna steak salad @ £15.95, comprising a free range egg, capers, olives, mixed leaf salad, fine green beans, new potatoes, tomatoes and dressing and a chargrilled, seared tuna steak – a really good mix of ingredients and flavours.

Converted boat house restaurant

The verdict: Nice and easy, no fuss restaurant with straight-talking food. The Wharf is part of the Gourmet Society scheme (currently 2-for-1 for two people only, and you must book in advance).

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: British, seafood
~ Address: 6 Upper Ground, Riverside Walk, Gabriel’s Wharf, South Bank, London
~ Postcode: SE1 9PP
~ Nearest station: Southwark, Waterloo East, Waterloo
~ Website + menus: The Wharf website
~ Photos on flickr: images of The Wharf
~ Location: The Wharf map

More South Bank/Waterloo dining:
~ Bangalore Express
~ Canteen
~ Zen China

The Wharf on Urbanspoon

Criterion – Piccadilly

It’s worth seeing inside the Criterion restaurant just for its opulent gold and marble decor. The Neo-Byzantine architecture is stunning and it feels like stepping into a bygone age.

Neo-Byzantine architecture

I first came here in 2001 on a work’s party night. We had a large table at the back (near the loos) and were entertained by a magician. It was a great experience. K and I returned shortly thereafter and ate from the pre-theatre menu (an extremely limited set menu and the food tasted so dry it was as if it had been prepared well in advance and left out all day). It was a contrastingly disappointing experience so we didn’t return. Well, not for a long time.

Over ten years on, ownership has changed and we decided to give it another try while my parents were visiting London. As a historical landmark, it is worth seeing after all.

Summer set menu – two courses + a Pimms + lemonade @ £20.00

In a restaurant with such extravagant gold and marble interiors bejewelled with mosaics and mirrors, you’d probably expect a formal dining experience with impeccable service.

Surprisingly, the summer set menu @ £20.00 for two courses including a Pimms and lemonade was exceptionally good value, and had a reasonable amount of choice (for a set menu). Food portions weren’t huge but it was all good quality although service was a bit of a let-down (one waiter didn’t seem to understand or speak English at all which was problematic, while another was so super stressed and panicky he reminded us of Basil Fawlty).

For starters, I had salmon gravlax on rye bread with a lemon mousse, capers and pickled shallots; K had thinly sliced rare roast beef with rocket salad and horseradish cream (@ £2.00 supplement), and B and K both had ham hock and black pudding terrine with gooseberry jam, pickled vegetables and croutons.

Salmon gravlax on rye bread starter

Thinly sliced rare roast beef – £2.00 supplement on the set menu

Ham hock + black pudding terrine

For main course, K and I both had ginger and chilli meat balls with potato gnocchi, peas, broad beans and celery cress (@ £2.00 supplement) while B and K both had confit of guinea fowl leg, potato purée, beetroot and peas.

Meat balls + potato gnocchi with peas and broad beans – £2.00 supplement on the set menu

Confit of guinea fowl leg, potato, beetroot and peas

The verdict: Worth seeing the impressive interiors of one of London’s oldest restaurants but overall – a bit hit and miss. Perhaps afternoon tea or a drink at the bar would be enough.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: British, International
~ Address: Criterion Restaurant, 224 Piccadilly, London
~ Postcode: W1J 9HP
~ Nearest station: Piccadilly
~ Website + menus: Criterion restaurant website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Criterion restaurant
~ Location: Criterion restaurant map

More West End (London) dining:
~ Andrew Edmunds
~ Asia de Cuba
~ Cây Tre
~ Mint Leaf Haymarket
~ Wagamama Soho

Criterion Restaurant on Urbanspoon

World food market – Devonshire Square

World Food Market at Devonshire Square first week of every month

The Epicurean Events team brings World Food Markets to Devonshire Square, the first week of the month from Tuesday to Friday, 10am – 3pm.

World Food Market – Food in the Middle, Hand Made Sushi, Moroccan Street Foods, Colombian Foods

More photos of World Food Market at Devonshire Square here>>>

Food stalls include the likes of:
~ Bare Bones – home smoked pulled pork, homemade slaw, pickles n killer sauce (also at Horniman Market)
~ Cheeky Burger – hand made burgers made from top quality beef patties
~ Colombian Street Food – empanadas + fresh coleslaw
~ Food in the Middle serving up Pakistani kebabs in flat bread freshly baked in the tandoor (choose from BBQ chicken, beef or paneer)
~ Moroccan Foods – stir fried lamb, chickpeas with spinach, chicken meatball tagine, beef kofta, lamb meatballs + more

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Food in the middle – wrapped in bread freshly baked in the tandoor @ £6.00 (gorgeous!)

Hand made sushi – freshly prepared

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Moroccan Foods: stir-fried lamb

The verdict: Great variety of food types from many countries but there’s a lot of stalls packed into a fairly small space and it does get RAMMED with people. Be prepared for gridlock and queues.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Street food market
~ Address: Devonshire Square, London
~ Postcode: EC2M 4WQ
~ Nearest tube stations: Liverpool Street, Aldgate
~ Websites: Devonshire Square world food market + Epicurean Events
~ Photos on flickr: images of World Food Market at Devonshire Square

Nearby street food markets:
~ Goulston Street food court
~ KERB at Spitalfields



KERB street food – Spitalfields

KERB comes to Old Spitalfields market in E1 on the first Wednesday of the month

From 11am – 3pm on the first Wednesday of every month, KERBanists set up street food stalls on Lamb Street at the back of Old Spitalfields market in Tower Hamlets, selling a range of culinary treats stemming from all over Europe and as far afield as the Middle East, Korea and the USA.

Kerb_at_Spitalfields_streetfoodmarket - 20140903
KERBanists: Kimchinary, Kooky Bakes, Jamon Jamon Paella, Capish

More photos of KERB at Spitalfields here>>>

Food stalls include the likes of:
~ Capish creators of Italian-American tomato-ey meatball sandwiches
~ Falafel Al-Hooriya serving up traditional Gazan falafel in Arabic flat bread (vegan)
~ Jamon Jamon Paella making Valenciana + seafood paella
~ Kimchinary serving spicy Korean burritos (pulled pork, ox cheek, sauteed aubergine)
~ Kooky Bakes offering whoopie pies (salted caramel, strawberry cheesecake), brownies + small batch baking delights …you’d best be quick!
~ Miss P’s Barbecue cooking up barbecued fish + meat, served in a sandwich or skinny

Kimchinary’s Korean burritos – pulled pork + kimchi

Lightly toasted on the outside before serving – slightly crispy, sealing all the sloppy-tastiness inside

This Korean burrito from Kimchinary was full of moist, slow-cooked pulled pork, spicy and sour kimchi (prepare for the endorphin rush!) and crunchy veggies, and grilled before serving which crisps up the outer layer of the burrito and seals in all the lovely sloppy contents.

Made fresh and served hot, this burrito @ £6.00 wasn’t exactly the cheapest lunchtime sandwich but Kimchinary had the longest queue on my visit, appearing to be the most popular stall.

The verdict: nice and spacious food market with a sufficient variety of stalls – shame it’s only here once a month.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Street food market
~ Address: Lamb Street, London
~ Postcode: E1
~ Nearest tube stations: Liverpool Street, Aldgate East (or Shoreditch High Street – Overground)
~ Websites: KERB + Spitalfields
~ Photos on flickr: images of KERB at Spitalfields

Nearby street food markets:
~ Goulston Street food court
~ World Food Market at Devonshire Square



Sophie’s Steakhouse – Covent Garden

The other evening, S and I had been out for a drink after work at the newest branch of Craft Beer Co pubs in Holborn, and wanted to have dinner in the Covent Garden area.

We settled on Sophie’s Steakhouse. You can’t book tables there anyway, and as we were strolling passed we decided to pop in.

IMG_0153b_inside Sophies
Inside Sophie’s Steakhouse Covent Garden

Situated near Aldwych in the heart of theatre-land, Sophie’s Steakhouse is a large venue on the corner of Wellington Street and Tavistock Street, and there were several tables available on this particular Thursday evening.

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Complimentary salami nibbles at Sophie’s

Having munched on the seasoned salami nibbles that were brought to us while reading the menu, we both ordered a classic hamburger @ £11.00 – a 4oz patty made from cross rib and minced in house carpaccio style, served with dill pickle, iceberg lettuce + steak sauce mayo on a brioche bun, and a portion of courgette fritters @ £4.50 to share.

IMG_0148b_burger at Sophies
Classic hamburger + courgette fries

The classic hamburger comes with a topping of either American cheese (I assumed that meant the orange plastic Kraft stuff?) or smoked bacon. I had my topping substituted with Cheddar cheese without a problem.

IMG_0152b_beef cuts in fridge at Sophies
Refrigerated cuts of meat on display

The verdict: Good burger restaurants (serving freshly prepared burger patties from carefully sourced beef) are fairly commonplace at the moment. That’s a good thing. And this is one such restaurant.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
~ Type: Steakhouse, burgers, British
~ Address: 29-31 Wellington St, The Opera Quarter, Covent Garden, London
~ Postcode: WC2E 7DB
~ Nearest station: Covent Garden, Charing Cross
~ Website + menus: Sophie’s Steakhouse + Bar website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Sophie’s Steakhouse + Bar food
~ facebook page: Sophie’s Steakhouse + Bar on fb
~ Location: Sophie’s Steakhouse + Bar map

More nearby dining:
~ Brasserie Blanc
~ Canteen
~ Maxwells
~ Palm Court Brasserie

Sophie's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Major Tom’s Social – Harrogate

“A youth club for grown ups” is how Major Tom’s Social describes itself. It’s apt.

Situated on the first floor over Space Harrogate (vintage shop on The Ginnel) Major Tom’s Social is a big room with comfy old sofas around the perimeter, decorated with memorabilia like vinyl records and posters of classic films.

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Major Tom’s Social – a youth club for grown ups

IMG_0097_Major Tom's Social
Above Space Harrogate down The Ginnel

With its quirky interiors, offering something a bit different from other bars in central Harrogate, it feels inviting from the moment you walk in.

Perhaps more importantly, there’s an excellent choice of drinks (including craft beers on tap) and proper Italian stone-baked pizzas on offer, all served by friendly, helpful bar staff.

IMG_0084_Major Tom's Social
Real ales on draft – including some Atom (from Hull) + Northern Alchemy (from Newcastle) beers on this day

IMG_0083_Major Tom's Social
Service with a smile

We try a couple of beers: Northern Alchemy’s oatmeal pale (mango, lime + cracked black pepper) and Atom’s IPA (both gorgeously bright and easy drinking) before moving onto prosecco with pizzas.

IMG_0093_Major Tom's Social
Pizza menu

Pizzas start from £5.00 – very reasonably priced and not to be missed. I had a free range egg, spinach and goats cheese pizza @ £6.00. Both the thin stone-baked base and fresh toppings were superb.

IMG_0087_Major Tom's Social
Egg, spinach + goats cheese

IMG_0090_Major Tom's Social
Roast squash, goats cheese + toasted pine nuts

IMG_0091_Major Tom's Social
Chorizo, chilli + chargrilled peppers

The verdict: nice style, great atmos and service, fab beers and pizza. Go if you can.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: pub, British
~ Address: The Ginnel, Harrogate
~ Postcode: HG1 2RB
~ Tel: 01423 566984
~ Website: Space Harrogate website
~ Photos on flickr: photos of Major Tom’s Social
~ facebook page: Major Tom’s Social on fb
~ Location: Major Tom’s Social map

Nearby dining + drinking:
~ Black Sheep Brewery – tours + visitor centre, Masham
~ Carriages – Knaresborough
~ Drum + Monkey – seafood in Harrogate
~ Storm at The Dower House – Knaresborough
~ Sukhothai – Harrogate, top Thai in Yorkshire

Major Tom's Social on Urbanspoon

Carriages Wine Bar – Knaresborough

The interior of Carriages of Knaresborough is olde and quaint (as befits this small medieval North Yorkshire town). Its segmented dining spaces (outdoors as well as in) give you the sense of being in a cosy room, even though it is – overall – quite a large restaurant.

On our visit last night, there were three menus to select from:
~ seafood – two courses @ £24.00
~ a la carte – two courses @ £24.00
~ tapas

IMG_0052_amuse bouche_smoked guineafowl
Amuse bouche – smoked guineau fowl taster

We ordered a bottle of Foxwood Viognier dry white wine @ £22.50 and a Crianza red @ £23.00 while reading the menu options, and were served an amuse bouche (‘mouth amuser’, a bite-sized hors d’œuvre compliments of the chef) of smoked guinea fowl (beautifully presented on a slate but too smoked and richly intense to be really enjoyable) and a basket of breads.

IMG_0054b_Scallops and pulled pork starter
Scallops + pulled pork starter

Whitby crab with poppadum starter

Setting aside the tapas menu, we all ordered two courses @ £24.00 from the seafood and a la carte menus.

For starters, K had scallops and pulled pork and I had dressed Whitby crab in a coronation mayonnaise with poppadums.

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Rack of lamb

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Monkfish with caper + harissa butter

6oz beef fillet steak

IMG_0064_swordfish with hollandaise
Swordfish loin with classic hollandaise sauce

For main course, the four of us ordered:
~ rack of lamb in a cranberry jus
~ fillet of monkfish with caper + harissa butter
~ 6oz fillet steak with asparagus wrapped in parma ham
~ fillet of swordfish with hollandaise sauce

The verdict lots of choice, great quality (and appropriately priced) food and wines, and comfortable semi-secluded spaces. Fine dining that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

Bill for four – £175.50 excluding service

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: British, international
~ 80 High Street, Knaresborough, North Yorkshire
~ Postcode: HG5 0HL
~ Tel: 01423 867041
~ Nearest station: Knaresborough
~ Photos on flickr: images of Carriages food
~ Location: Carriages map

More Knaresborough + Harrogate dining:
~ Drum + Monkey – seafood in Harrogate
~ Storm at The Dower House – Knaresborough
~ Sukhothai – Harrogate, top Thai in Yorkshire

Carriages on Urbanspoon



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