Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House in Soho W1 – sublime

Step out of the bustle of London’s Soho into the low-lit, pristine and calming ground floor restaurant Floor 58 in Jason Atherton’s Social Eating House, for some truly tasty posh-nosh

Come on in…

Seated at a table for two (space was restricted) we started with a refreshing drink from the cocktail menu. A Banana Sazerac for me @ 11.00 (Monkey Shoulder scotch, Martell VS cognac, banana, pineapple, aromatic bitters, absinthe rinse and orange oils) and an Eldflower Sour for J @ £10.00 (Beefeater gin, elderflower, peach, lemon and marjoram).

We’d provisionally booked a set menu of two/three courses and a cocktail @ £29.50/£34.50. Take a look at the set menu side by side with the a la carte menu – the a la carte menu is too full of exciting options to resist, right?

 

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Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico de Bellota, Arlington white egg, Langres, dandelion + Spring truffle

 

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Mackerel and tartare, Skyr, pickled walnuts, apple + chicory

 

And so we ordered from the a la carte menu. For starter, I had salt-baked Jerusalem artichoke, Iberico de Bellota, Arlington white egg, Langres cheese, dandelion, and Spring truffle @ £13.50. I don’t think I’ve eaten dandelion before and it looked stunning. So visually pleasing it was almost a shame to tuck in and spoil the design. Almost. The mixture of flavours was sensational – the word sublime was going through my mind right throughout this meal.

J had scorched south coast mackerel and tartare, Skyr (yoghurt-like dairy product), pickled walnuts, apple and chicory @ £12.00.

 

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Set menu Vs a la carte menu – click to enlarge

 

For main course, J had baked Cornish hake, hispi cabbage gratin, Salcombe crab, Tokyo turnip and saffron @ £28.00, along with a mug of cidre Breton @ £6.00.

 

I had coriander seed roasted turbot, green sauce, white Wye Valley asparagus, fennel salad and crispy Pyefleet oyster @ £32.00, and drank a Vinha dos Santos 2013 red wine from Portugal’s Douro region @ £9.50 a 175ml glass. Here’s a photo of the turbot (as served) – beautiful. The photo below shows the food disassembled so you can see inside the crispy (breaded) oyster, and the detail of the meaty turbot with asparagus and fennel salad.

 

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Hake, hispi cabbage gratin, Salcombe crab, Tokyo turnip, saffron

 

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Roasted turbot, green sauce, white Wye Valley asparagus, fennel salad + crispy Pyefleet oyster

 

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Americano @ £4.00, Financier (almond cake) + petit fours @ £3.50

 

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Social Eating House on Soho’s Poland Street – Floor 58 on ground floor, Blind Pig on first floor

 

The verdict: Food here is on another level. It’s sublime, sensational and blew me away. I can’t wait to eat here again. Service was good too.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
– Type: British, ‘contemporary bistro’
– Address: 58 Poland St, Soho, London
– Postcode: W1F 7NS
– Nearest station: Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Piccadilly
– Website + menus: Social Eating House website
– Photos on flickr: of Social Eating House
– Location: Social Eating House map

The Social Eating House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Bird of Smithfield – Farringdon EC1A

Classy food in a Georgian townhouse, this restaurant is spread over several interestingly decorated floors

On our visit this evening we chose from this menu here. For starters, I had baked heritage beetroots @ £8.00 – very reasonably priced and outstandingly tasty. Just look at those beautiful big chunks of fresh celeriac with a good dollop of goat’s curd – a great mix of flavours along with the beetroot and balsamic and sorrel leaves:

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Baked heritage beetroots starter with goat’s curd, balsamic, celeriac, radish, sorrel

Another starter that went down very well was this pan fried foie gras @ £12.50:

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Pan fried foie gras with shaved turnip, kibbled onion, roasted duck consommé

 

Service was very slow and we had a long wait (and apologies from the waitresses) for food.

For main course, I had this wild Cornish turbot (so good, it was worth the wait!), served with fresh pasta, clams and butter:

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Wild Cornish turbot with hand-rolled farfelle, clams, celery, Swiss chard, shellfish butter

 

Creatively presented, this caramelised duck breast with a pie top looks almost too good to eat. Almost.

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Caramelised duck breast with crushed pumpkin, pickled red cabbage, spiced honey and a braised leg pie @ £23.00

 

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Bird of Smithfield restaurant – in a Georgian townhouse opposite Smithfield meat market in Clerkenwell, London

 

The verdict: Stunningly presented food that’s outstandingly good. The homeliness of the townhouse was very appealing, and the interior is really tastefully designed and comfortable. Service wasn’t great but I’ll definitely be back to try more of this menu.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: British, international
– Address: 26 Smithfield St, Clerkenwell, London
– Postcode: EC1A 9L
– Nearest station: Farringdon, Barbican
– Website + menus: Bird of Smithfield website
– Bird of Smithfield photos: Bird of Smithfield photos on flickr
– Location: Bird of Smithfield map

Bird Of Smithfield Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Caravan – Kings Cross N1C

Our group of eight ate from a ‘set menu’ this eve. This is great when there’s a few of you as it means you can have a few starter plates to share (they’re exceptionally tasty) and still get to choose a main course and dessert.

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Sample set menu for groups

If eating from the a la carte menu, this Burmese chicken salad, turmeric, chilli, lime and peanuts starter sharing plate is £7.50. It’s a gorgeous blend of flavours.

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Burmese chicken salad – starter sharing plate

This red quinoa and buckwheat grain bowl, stem broccoli, sweet potato, peanuts with miso-tahini dressing is £8.00 on the a la carte menu. Again, really tasty and healthy too.

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Quinoa and buckwheat grain bowl – starter sharing plate

There’s a good choice of wines ranging from £18.00 a bottle up to about £60.00 (we had a good Rioja @ £18.00).

After such a good start with the amazing sharing plates, my expectations were raised. And dropped again. Most of our main courses arrived together, but some didn’t arrive until after a further 20 minutes (so a couple ended up eating after everyone else had finished).

Pizzas are stone-baked and nice enough but the base is very thick, made from a heavy dough – it was like munching through a loaf of bread and a bit of a chore. Toppings were nice and fresh but my pizza base was burnt. Still, there was enough of it that even after cutting off the burnt part of the base, I was still left with plenty.

This mozzarella, tomato + basil pizza is normally £9.00 on the a la carte menu:

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Mozzarella, tomato + basil pizza

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Portobello mushroom, porcini ricotta, mozzarella + rocket pizza

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Caravan Kings Cross – a grade II listed Victorian grain store

The verdict: Appealing venue, basic but cosy. Food was either exceptionally good (starters) or poor (burnt, thick-based pizza) and service wasn’t great (that our group’s main courses arrived at different times, meaning we ate – in effect – in two sittings, was disappointing).

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: International
– Address: Granary Square, 1 Granary Square, Kings Cross, London
– Postcode: N1C 4AA
– Tel: 020 7101 7661
– Nearest station: Kings Cross, St Pancras
– Website + menus: Caravan Kings Cross website
– Photos on flickr: Caravan Kings Cross photos on flickr
– Location: Caravan Kings Cross map

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

Posh nosh at Bronte – Trafalgar Square, WC2N

Posh nosh at large brasserie near Trafalgar Square

What’s this restaurant like? Well, the first clue is in the address – The Grand Building, The Strand. I’m guessing you’re with me so far.

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Bronte restaurant on The Strand

Our party of eight visited on Tuesday evening, a cold autumnal evening. Entering the brightly lit, brasserie-style rooms at ground level, we were taken down to the equally large and elegant basement restaurant and bar area where our booked table was waiting.

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Get a load of this edamame + kale pancake: aerial, sideview, cut open 

We each selected a main course and dessert from a set menu – three courses at £35 per head while starters and sides were served for the table to share. From the wine list, we chose a Le Paradou Viognier (dry white wine with subtle fruit and floral flavours) @ £27.00 a bottle.

Our shared starters included:

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Roast beetroot + root vegetables

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Octopus + charred pineapple with kalamansi (hybrid citrus fruit), chilli, Thai shallots and mint (Ceviche style with slightly pickled flavours)

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Chilli + honey chicken skewers with baby leek, pickled cucumber, spring onion + sesame – so, so good

For main course, some in our party chose the fillet steak at a supplement of £10 (10 oz grass-fed rare-breed Black Angus with miso slaw and roast garlic) which looked great and was met with approval. But the exciting option had to be the edamame and kale pancake, it’s not something I’ve seen on a menu before. The smoked avocado and aubergine ratatouille had the lovely smoky flavours of baba ghanoush, and the pancake – despite sounding like a relatively healthy option – was spongy and dense, and really filling (which seemed appropriate on a cold, autumnal night).

Edamame + kale pancake with smoked avocado + aubergine ratatouille, sheep’s milk yogurt + harissa:

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Spongy pancake texture – dense and filling, befitting a cold autumnal evening

Our shared sides included:

  • Skinny fries with nori + rosemary salt
  • Tenderstem broccoli
  • Black sesame tahini + truffle
  • Miso slaw
  • Shiso, spring onion, red onion + sweetheart cabbage

Dessert choices included:

  • Limoncello cheesecake with pomelo grapefruit salad + yuzu sorbet
  • Summer berry pavlova – strawberry coulis
  • Sorbet / ice cream – three scoops of your choice

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Limoncello cheesecake + yuzu sorbet

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Three scoops of ice cream including green tea

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Summer berry pavlova – strawberry coulis – slightly sickly but it didn’t go to waste…

The verdict: If you’re not counting the pennies and want something that’s not mainstream, this is reasonably priced given the interesting, unusual menu items and quality food. Nice and spacious, it’s an easy space in which to feel comfortable and relax.

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 3.5 / 5
– Type: International
– Address: Grand Buildings, 1-3 The Strand, London
– Postcode: WC2N 5EJ
– Nearest station: Charing Cross
– Website + menus: Bronte website
– Photos on flickr: Bronte photos
– Location: Bronte map

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

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.

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At The Wilmington, off Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell

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

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We order:

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

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Rosemary chips on the side @ £3.50

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Field mushrooms with garlic crumbs @ £3.50 – gorgeous

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

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Homely bar space with lots of craft beers on tap

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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.

More of the menu (re-visited):

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Starter portion of cod scampi with nduja aioli @ £8.00

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Seasonal salad – pickled pear, chicory, candied pecans, quinoa, blue murder, celery – main course portion @ £12.00

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Duck egg and wild mushrooms on sourdough @ £8.00 + roasted root veg @ £3.50

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Artichoke ravioli @ £7.50 with rosemary chips @ £3.50

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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

Duck and Waffle – Bishopsgate London

Great views over London from the city’s highest restaurant, offering “a playful take on traditional British cuisine with broad European influences”

A light and bright space with tables sufficiently spread out, the Duck and Waffle just makes you feel good. Given its prestigious reputation (for this Friday evening reservation, I’d booked two months in advance) I wasn’t sure if service would be a bit stuffy. It wasn’t at all.

 

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Light and bright restaurant space 

 

Following ‘Artistry in Alchemy’ gin cocktails at SushiSamba (on a floor below) to get the weekend off to a good start, J and I arrived at Duck and Waffle for our 7pm reservation, only to be told we were 15 minutes late and the table had been let go. There’s a strict two-hour turnaround on tables that you’re informed about when you book – this was completely my mistake. We were asked to wait in the bar (not really expecting a table to become available any time soon). Before we’d even decided what to drink, we were warmly intercepted and shown to a table in the window with a great view. Service was informal, prompt (but only when we wanted it to be) and I felt very well accommodated for my oversight.

 

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Great views over London to Stratford and the QEII Olympic Park and beyond
Top l-r: aubergine bread, miso glazed rabbit, smoked eel
Bottom l-r: ox cheek doughnut, homemade biscuit

 

The overall dining experience aims to be informal and easy, by offering a menu of sharing plates to sample leisurely. We chose five. Each dish was a beautiful design; art on a plate.

There’s an extensive wine list which is quite pricey, in comparison to the reasonably priced food menu. We chose an Esporao white @ £33.00 (I’m a big fan of Esporao, returned from Portugal this week and it was on the budget end of the wine list).

 

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Puy lentils – spinach, sweet onion, yoghurt, miso + nasturtiums @ £11.00

 

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Miso glazed rabbit – roasted cauliflower, suet biscuit (suet pie crust) and crispy cabbage @ £13.00

 

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Aubergine bread – charred aubergine, sumac yoghurt, flatbread @ £6.00

 

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Spicy ox cheek doughnut – apricot jam, smoked paprika sugar @ £10.00

The spicy ox cheek doughnut was the stand-out dish for me. It’s not something I would normally have ordered (I don’t especially like doughnuts, and ox cheek sounds, well, a bit rough…) but it had been enthusiastically recommended to me. It lived up to the recommendation and some… It’s a heavy dish, very filling and definitely one to share. It has a lovely warming spicy coating, the meat inside was like pulled beef (really tender) and the apricot sauce rounded it off perfectly.

 

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Smoked eel with creme fraiche, horseradish and samphire – beautiful bite-size servings @ £10.00

 

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Home-made biscuits @ £4.00 – served in style, of course

 

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Open kitchen 

 

Despite there being a two-hour limit on tables, it was a very leisurely meal. We weren’t at all rushed. I was so slow eating the hearty ox cheek doughnut (I omitted to mention J doesn’t eat meat, yep I ate it all!) that J had plenty of time for a coffee.

 

The verdict: Best restaurant with a view.

Fantastic all-round experience, from the comfort and atmosphere of the restaurant space itself, stunning views (you can see for miles on a clear day) to tasty food with a novelty factor style. Service can vary.

 

Restaurant info:
– Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
– Type: British, international
– Address: 110 Bishopsgate, City of London, London
– Postcode: EC2N 4AY
– Nearest station: Liverpool Street
– Website + menus: Duck and Waffle website
– Photos on flickr: Duck and Waffle images
– Location: Duck and Waffle map 
– Anything else: open 24/7

 

Duck & Waffle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato