The Wilmington – gastro pub Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell

It’s Monday morning. Still smiling and happy from a good weekend, what better way to extend that weekend feeling than with a pub lunch? 

Go on then.

OpenTable recently published a list of “London’s top 10 gastro pubs” based on diner reviews. One of them – The Wilmington – is just off Exmouth Market in the Farringdon/Clerkenwell area. It’s handy for work so I’d put it straight on LardButty’s “to try” list. And today seems like the day.

On arrival at 13:30 it’s pretty much dead, though it’s clear to see there’s a great range of craft beers on at the bar and that the pub is split into several segmented spaces for drinking or dining. We’re led to our reserved booth in a dining section by someone who seems happy to be at work.  He tells us about the specials with enthusiasm and generally makes us feel welcome and pleased to be here.


At The Wilmington, off Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell


It’s an interesting, original menu that requires a proper read:



We order:


Orecchiette, peas, oyster mushrooms, romanesco and gremolata @ £11.50 



Rosemary chips on the side @ £3.50



Field mushrooms with garlic crumbs @ £3.50 – gorgeous



Fritto misto – mixed seafood including king prawns, calamari, fish – with citrus aioli and crispy fennel @ £7.50



Homely bar space with lots of craft beers on tap



Appealing dining spaces  – wooden floors, solid wood furniture


The verdict: Excellent service, great quality gastro pub food (I’m left wanting to try more of the menu) and a variety of craft beers on offer.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: pub, gastro-pub, British, international
– Address: 69 Rosebery Ave, London
– Postcode: EC1R 4RL
– Nearest station: Farringdon, Angel
– Website + menus: The Wilmington pub website
– Photos on flickr: The Wilmington pub images
– Location: The Wilmington pub map


The Wilmington Arms Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Yauatcha City – Broadgate Circle

Casual dining dim sum teahouse by Hakkasan Group at Broadgate Circle

We chose a 9-course tasting menu comprising a variety of dim sum, rolls, macaroons and a cocktail as something a bit different for my parents to try, while they’re in town this weekend. Chopstick challenges aside, it was a  novel experience and good value @ £29.00 a head.


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From a 9-course tasting menu

– top left: dim sum – prawn shui mai with chicken and garden dumpling
– top right: prawn and beancurd cheung fun (rice noodle roll)
– bottom left: baked venison puff and mushroom spring roll
– bottom right: macaroons


The restaurant space is unusual in that it’s long, narrow and circular. Following the corridor along to the toilets (with lovely Aesop hand wash) has the feel of being at an airport or a mall – and a bit soulless.


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In the round – Yauatcha at Broadgate Circle


We began with a refreshing cherry chaser cocktail along with the first course of dim sum and rolls, served with soy sauce, and two chilli dipping sauces:

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Dim sum – crystal dumpling wrap with pumpkin and pine nut + har gau (traditional dumpling); baked venison puff and mushroom spring roll

The vension puff and mushroom spring roll were both in light, flaky pastry with strong flavours – perfect for a small portion, absolutely gorgeous.


Moving on to the next course, we had prawn shui mai with chicken and a garden dumpling, accompanied by Picpoul de Pinet dry white wine @ £30 a bottle.

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Dim sum – prawn shui mai with chicken and garden dumpling


This prawn and beancurd cheung fun (rice noodle roll) was a favourite of mine, as it was similar to kakiage (fried onions and veggies in Japanese dishes).

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Prawn and beancurd cheung fun


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Sticky rice in lotus leaf


Inside this steamed lotus leaf parcel, was a portion of sticky rice with a gooey chicken and dried shrimp middle.

And finally – eight different flavoured macaroons.

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Macaroon selection


I’m no macaroon connoisseur and prefer savoury/salty food over desserts/sweet stuff. But these were pretty good. The coconut one (top right) was the least popular (sweet, dessicated coconut) while I enjoyed the peanut butter macaroon the most (surprise).


The verdict: Novel experience – you get to taste a good variety of Asian-inspired food items. Service was very relaxed, informal and attentive (bordering on overly attentive) throughout. Our total bill for four came to £193.67 which seemed very good value.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Chinese, Dim Sum, Asian
– Address: Broadgate Circle, London
– Postcode: EC2M 2QS
– Nearest station: Liverpool Street
– Website + menus: Yauatcha website
– Photos on flickr: Yauatcha City images
– Location: Yauatcha City map


Yauatcha Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Poetic License Bar – Roker, Tyne and Wear

Poetic License Bar, in the Best Western Roker Hotel, is situated on the rugged North Sea coast at Roker.

It’s part of Tavistock Hospitality group so you’re guaranteed some very tasty, locally produced drinks –  craft beers from Sonnet 43 brewhouse and craft gins from Poetic License distillery.


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Poetic License Bar – ‘Distillery bar and soul food’


Having been for a walk along the rugged, exposed coast to Camels Island first, we’d worked up a thirst and an appetite.

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The Poetic License Bar is in the Best Western Roker Hotel . We passed the botanical garden on the way in, which looked really appealing with its chunky log wall.

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Botanical garden – nice log wall


These craft gins from Poetic License (the distillery is at the bar – handy!) are already winning awards, less than a year after launching: Old Tom Gin and Northern Dry Gin. They make a perfect gift for all the special gin lovers out there, no?


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Poetic License – perfect serves


At £3.75 a single or £5.75 a double, the three ‘perfect serves’ pictured above are:

left: Old Tom with Fevertree premium ginger ale, cinnamon and red apple – my favourite (nice and dry, I loved the flavours of ginger and cinnamon spice)

centre: Northern Dry with Fevertree premium Indian tonic water and pink grapefruit

right: Picnic gin strawberries and cream flavoured gin with a Fevertree elderflower tonic water and fresh strawberries (sounds sickly but it wasn’t)


Service was slow and a bit blasé. It took well over an hour for our food to arrive. But we were happy to keep trying out more gins…


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Blue cheese and walnut salad with grapes and chicory @ £9.95 – slightly sickly and creamy (just as it looks)


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New York style Reuben burger – 8oz beef burger with pastrami, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing @ £9.45

Also served with lettuce, tomato, mayo and dill pickle in a brioche bun with skin-on fries and house slaw. Good value for such a filling meal, and great quality beef burger.


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Look at the size of that – get your chops around this. If you can.



The verdict: Excellent range of drinks. Skip the salads and go straight for a burger. And check out the website for theme nights and promos.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Pub, British
– Address: Roker Hotel, Roker Terrace, Roker, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear
– Postcode: SR6 9ND
– Nearest metro stations: Stadium of Light, Seaburn
– Website + menus: Poetic License Bar website
– Photos on flickr: Poetic License Bar images
– Location: Poetic License Bar map


Pachamama – Peruvian in Marylebone

Pachamama, a Peruvian inspired restaurant behind Selfridges serving Latino food with a twist and fab cocktails

Our first Peruvian dining experience was at Raymi in New York earlier this year. We enjoyed it so much we vowed to check out Peruvian in London (there are a few) but somehow hadn’t gotten round to it.

So when Pachamama was recommended to me the other day, it seemed fitting to go this weekend as we were planning a day out in the west-end. And so we visited the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts on Piccadilly (brilliant, as ever) then headed out for a wander through Mayfair, stopping for a drink as it was a hot day. And on to Marylebone.


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Top, l-r: Brown crab + yuca churros @ £5.50, Sea bass ceviche with samphire, radish + tiger’s milk @ £9.50
Bottom, l-r: Fried aubergine with smoked yoghurt + pecans @ £8.50, beef and roast sweet potato @ £21.00


We arrived early for our 6pm reservation (it was one of those weekend late-lunch-early-dinner meals) not realising that the restaurant only opens at 6pm. We passed an hour in the bar cooling off, drinking pisco sours.


Bar area – funky lampshades and decor


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Pisco sour @ £10.00 – beautiful



Restaurant area – like a backyard (bringing the outside in)


We were the first to go through to the dining room promptly at 6pm and enjoy a brief ‘private’ dining experience. Our helpful server advised us on the menu and recommended how many dishes to share.

We ordered a bottle of viognier @ £30.00 and crab and yuca churros (pictured above) which were surprisingly good as a savoury snack, sea bass ceviche and:


Tuna ceviche @ £9.50



Chicken anticuchos (skewers) @ £7.00


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Beef short rib ‘pachamanca’, aji (sauce) and sweet potato @ £21.00


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Peruvian fried chicken with Atacama hot sauce @ £8.00



Fried aubergine with smoked yoghurt and pecans @ £8.50 – divine


Those dishes tasted as good as they look. The stand out dishes for me were the fried aubergine with smoked yoghurt and the tender beef short rib ‘pachamanca’.

The verdict: Excellent food that’s a bit different. Our total bill for two came to £179 (but that did include 6 x pisco sours and a bottle of wine).


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: Peruvian
– Address: 18 Thayer Street, Marylebone, London
– Postcode: W1U 3JY
– Nearest station: Bond Street
– Website + menus: Pachamama website
– Photos on flickr: Pachamama images
– Location: Pachamama map


Pachamama Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Polpo Italian tapas – Smithfield EC1M

Italian sharing plates in an informal, cosy setting – Smithfield, Farringdon branch

Part of the same restaurant group as Mishkin’s (Jewish style deli) with a similarly styled simple menu, Polpo serves Italian tapas. It’s all about sharing simple, good quality food and wine in a humble environment.

After meeting friends after work last night in a busy pub by Farringdon station (packed and we couldn’t hear ourselves talk) we decided to look for somewhere – less rammed and noisy – to eat. Polpo on Cowcross Street by Smithfield Market seemed calm and relaxing.


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Grilled focaccia @ £3.00


We ordered a bottle of cold, sparkling prosecco, which seemed wholly appropriate for a warm summer evening (although, I’ve no idea when it’s not appropriate to drink prosecco…) and a few plates to share between the four of us.


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Polpo menu – Italian ‘tapas’


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Fritto misto @ £9.00 – calamari (squid) rings, octopus, prawns


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Lamb meatballs @ 7.00


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Arancini (front) – stuffed rice balls coated in bread crumbs and deep fried, two balls @ £8.00
Crab linguine (back) @ £9.00


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Courgette salad @ £5.00


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Milan style breaded chicken @ £7.00


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Inside Polpo


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Outside Polpo – on Cowcross Street by Smithfield Market


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Nutella pizzetta @ £6.00


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Panna cotta @ £5.00



The verdict: No frills, no fuss. It’s all about simplicity and good food, with good service too. Our meal for four – including two bottles of prosecco and desserts or liquid desserts (liqueurs) came to £171 (about £43 a head).



Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Italian tapas
– Address: 3 Cowcross Street, Smithfield, London
– Postcode: EC1M 6DR
– Nearest station: Farringdon, Barbican
– Website + menus: Polpo website
– Photos on flickr: Polpo images
– Location: Polpo map 
Polpo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Rolling Stock Burgers – Haggerston

Huge beer garden – perfect for hot summer days

After a very weird interactive secret theatre experience at the King’s Head in E2 (some really-good-burlesque that turned into a not-at-all-good-zombie-apocalypse in a mucky-Hamleys-style pub full of dead animals; parodying From Dusk Til Dawn) L and I were ready to enjoy a drink, some food and the sunshine, late Saturday afternoon.

We hadn’t gone far along Kingsland Road before we came across Rolling Stock, set in arches next to railway lines. The inside space seems pretty cavernous with all the lovely old arches. Or maybe it seemed that way as it was empty due to the glorious weather. The few customers who were there, were outside enjoying the beer garden. And on the plus side, the Rio Olympics were on, on big screens, both inside and out.


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Huge beer garden


Bar staff were welcoming and jolly, but didn’t have a clue about the craft beers available, when asked. And at £4.80 a small can of beer, it wasn’t exactly good value. I guess that’s trendy Shoreditch for you but may explain why no one was here on a Saturday afternoon when other places nearby were heaving. No matter, I was glad of the peace and space.


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Burger with bacon – served in a seeded bun


L ordered a burger with bacon, while I had a rolling smoke burger @ £9.95 with lettuce and caramelised onions. They both included excellent skin-on chips.


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Let’s have a look inside…


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And see how pink the beef is in the middle – perfect, and the cheese is in the middle of the patty


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Empty inside on a hot Saturday afternoon – showing sports



The verdict: Great beer garden for hanging out on warm days. They describe themselves as an “arts destination” for local “creatives” (as is the whole Shoreditch area, surely?). It could be worth checking their website to see what’s on if you’re in the area. Great burgers and good bottled/canned beers.


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: Burgers, bar
– Address: 48 Kingsland Rd, Shoreditch, London
– Postcode: E2 8DN
– Nearest station: Hoxton, Shoreditch High Street
– Website + menus: Rolling Stock website
– Photos on flickr: Rolling Stock images
– Location: Rolling Stock Haggerston map


Granger & Co – Clerkenwell

International dishes with an Australian twist in a relatively peaceful, green location

Looking at Granger & Co from leafy St. James’s church garden over the road, this feels more like a village green than the middle of London:

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Granger & Co – Clerkenwell

Zooming out a little, this photo shows the sculptural installation of bird boxes (created by London Fieldworks for Clerkenwell Design Week 2011 to reflect the surrounding architecture – more info here) in St. James’s church garden:

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There was a time a few years ago when it seemed like Australian chef, Bill Granger was never off the TV, particularly the Saturday morning food programmes. And Granger & Co is his London chain of restaurants – there are three at Kings Cross, Notting Hill and Clerkenwell.

There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan options on the lunch menuwhich offers small plates (from courgette chips to goats cheese and flatbread to crispy squid or Korean fried chicken), mini pizzas, sandwiches and burgers and some interesting salads as well as ‘classics’ (like scrambled eggs and sourdough toast), bowls and grains (puy lentils, broth and brown rice) and big plates (such as belly pork, crispy duck or fish curry).

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Bondi salad bowl 

The Bondi salad bowl @ £12.50 is a mix of buckwheat, quinoa, golden beetroot, courgette, tamari pepitas, goat’s yoghurt, feta and rose harissa which gives it a subtle spicy kick. Not your average ‘salad’ by any means. It’s just gorgeous.


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Courgette fritters and halloumi – a big plate

The courgette fritters and halloumi dish is a ‘big plate’ option @ £11.80, served with siyez (wheat) and shredded kale salad and zhoug (green chilli sauce). Another great dish, once the blanket of coriander is removed.


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Lunchtime menu – as of August 2016


The verdict: The Clerkenwell branch is in a relatively green and peaceful location for the city. Interesting salad options and fresh juices too. Not cheap but worth a visit.


More of the menu

October 2016

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Crispy duck, clementine, star anise, brown rice and citrus salad – a main course of a 3-course set menu @ £29.95


IMG_9668_chilli miso salmon

Chilli miso salmon, hot and sour aubergine, herb salad and brown rice – a main course dish from a 3-course set menu


IMG_9673_pistachio pavlova

Pistachio pavlova, fresh passion fruit and yoghurt cream – perfect meringue, gorgeous!



Sambal chicken salad – green papaya, coriander, peanuts, Thai basil, chargrilled spring onion @ £13.50



Scrambled eggs on sourdough toast – light and fluffy eggs @ £8.20


Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: International, Australian
– Address: 50 Sekforde St, Clerkenwell, London
– Postcode: EC1R 0HA
– Nearest station: Farringdon
– Website + menus: Granger & Co website
– Photos on flickr: Granger & Co images
– Location: Granger & Co Clerkenwell map

Granger & Co. Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato