Dreaming of some gnocchi? Panting for parpadelle? Then join the club. Pasta is a simple dish, but as they always say, the simplest things are always the hardest to perfect. Thankfully for us lucky Londoners, some of the best pasta places have made London their home. This is just some of the best places to get your pasta fixes.(more…)
🍴 Middle-Eastern 📍King’s Cross 💵 ££
PULSE LONDON SAYS: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
A ray of Middle-Eastern sunshine in the flourishing food scene of King’s Cross.(more…)
No one ever looks forward to Mondays. The dreary morning commute, the pouring rain, the packed tube train. All this before you even set foot in the office and sipped your morning coffee.
That’s why all over London, top restaurants are offering their finest to help us get through the worse day of the week.
From golden, crispy fried chicken to gigantic savoury pancakes, these top-notch Monday restaurant deals in London aren’t just delish, but light on the hard-earned cash too. Win-win!
What: Fried chicken; Spitalfields & Soho (London)
The deal: dishes with a drink included: £6.95
I like my KFC, but you know what’s even better? Absurd Bird’s bargain lunch time deal. At those prices, you’re getting your fried chicken fix and a whole lot more in a upscale establishment. And if you’re into cocktails, then get this – it’s 2-4-1 cocktails all day.
Offer is only available if you book in advance though, so get booking.
What: BBQ; Brixton & Shoreditch
The deal: Two meals for the price of one.
You’d be hard pressed to find a better deal than this ‘Best Mate Monday’ deal at Blues Kitchen. Not only are the food top-notch, you’re treated to live music of blues, soul or funk every night at this hip Shoreditch bar and restaurant. An eclectic, industrial space serving comforting cajun-BBQ grub with a side of blues for half-the price? Tell a mate and see you there.
Like, Absurd Bird, you better book ahead.
What: Pizza; Covent Garden
The deal: 2 pizzas for £14 + plus more
I’m afraid those takeaway Dominoes just won’t do anymore after you’ve grabbed a slice of Covent Garden’s gourmet pizzas. Inspired by cities around the world, their creative toppings taste just as good as it sounds. Peking pizza with duck confit and hoisin sauce? Yes please. Grab a mate and enjoy gastronomic pizzas for just 7 quid.
You know the drill, book first before enjoying.
What: Cocktails; various location
The deal: why spend a fiver on a tepid pint when you can spend that on a cocktail? The LCC have been serving revellers creative concoctions like the Brixton Riot since 2008 and now you can sip on some weird and fantastic cocktails for 50% at one the LCC’s many locations around London. It’s not for the refined, you can expect booming music, low-lit settings and swing lamps underneath the streets of London. This is the place for a night out, and if you ask me, the LCC Monument is the cream of the crops.
Drink up: https://londoncocktailclub.co.uk/
What: Pancakes; Holborn
The deal: Monday madness pancakes at £5.95
Pancakes aren’t just all sweet. Transforming how we see these delightful thin, flat cake of batter, My Old Dutch have been lifting Londoner’s gloomy Monday blues for years by offering outrageously brilliant pancakes for an equally brilliant deal.
No need to RSVP, but expect to queue for dinner.
What: Scottish, Steak; Soho
The deal: “Meaty Monday’s” 50% off Butchers Cuts, every Monday
I raved about just how good Mac and Wild was, and now us lucky lot can chomp down on some of the best steaks from Scotland for half the price. That beef chateaubriand was unbelievably good. And it gets better, if you’re a lucky cardholder of a Taste Card, you’re entitled to another 50%. Incredible food for so little money, it’s almost daylight robbery.
RSVP not required but highly recommended: https://www.macandwild.com/mac-wild-devonshire-square/meaty-mondays
What: Meat chops; City, Soho; Shoreditch
The deal: Butcher price Mondays
Located on the site of a former brothel bang in the middle of Soho and just a minute walk from the bright lights of the West End, Blacklock are offering big, quality chops at butcher prices. Butcher prices can vary and the quantity may be limited but notwithstanding this, all we need to know is that you’re still getting a good deal of chops at awesome prices. I highly recommend bringing a mate for this one. One person will not be able to handle the meat sweats alone here. Wash all that meat down with cocktails for a fiver. What’s not to love?
RSVP not required but recommended: https://theblacklock.com/menus/
🍸Quirky Bar 📍Covent Garden,
Quirky bars. Us Londoners love a quirky bar, don’t we? Well, today is our lucky day because the Capital is getting another one albeit as a three month pop-up
Alcotraz – the notorious prison-themed cocktail experience in Shoreditch have announced they’ll be opening a new location ‘Cell Block’ smack bang in the middle of Covent Garden as a three month pop-up from Friday 4th October 2019.
Taking place underneath Covent Garden in a speakeasy basement, the stakes couldn’t be higher and covertness is paramount when guests attempt to smuggle liquor past The Warden and into the hands of some of Alcotraz’s longest-serving inmates who will then transform the contraband liquor into delicious cocktails.
It may have generated global headlines and courted controversy since it’s opening on Brick Lane in 2017, but there’s no denying how appeal to curious Londoners looking for a unique night out.
This time, the infamous bar behind bar is taking this game of cat and mouse to new heights with a more immersive experience that begins before arriving. Guests – or rather, inmates – are given their own Alcotraz processing number and instructions to bring their liquor and covertly meet a cast of shady characters at the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Neal Street. Inmates then smuggle their own liquor into the experience in return for four cocktails.
Alcotraz Cell Block Six Eight can accommodate 40 inmates at a time, and will be serving cocktails behind bars using liquor that has been smuggled in past the guards. How’s that for quirky?
Alcotraz Penitentiary: Cell Block Six Eight, 68a Neals Street, WC2H 9PA
Keen to experience it? You might want to book ahead.
I’m going to be completely upfront with you: I think I’ve found the best Turkish restaurant in London.(more…)
It’s not easy to find an authentic aperitivo hour (that’s Italian happy hour for you and me) experience in London. So when I got the chance to experience one of Italy’s most popular exports the traditional Italian way at Hotel Xenia, I wasn’t going to pass on the chance.
It got better as I walked into the hotel lobby and I immediately noticed the contemporary Italian-inspired interiors.
I was already impressed by the handsome Georgian townhouse exterior when I arrived on my Monday evening visit. It got better as I walked into the hotel lobby and I immediately noticed the contemporary Italian-inspired interiors. I’m talking gleaming marble floors, comfy-looking leather armchairs, large gallery windows and contemporary interior furnishings such as artsy ornaments and plants. The stylish interiors are what I would expect in the well-heeled neighbourhood of Kensington and I still got that sense of excitement of being in somewhere fancy.
I was greeted by a friendly receptionist and who led to the equally stylish Evoluzione – the hotel’s onsite Italian restaurant. I always thought that happy hours are best al fresco so I was glad to see that the dining area included an open-air terrace large enough to hold an intimate group. I only wish that the terrace was in a more secluded area of the hotel away from the sound of whizzing cars of Brompton Road.
While Aperol Spritz may hog the limelight, it’s not the only libation on offer.
I’m sure an Aperol Spritz needs no introduction, and I couldn’t fault it here: refreshingly sweet and crisp as it should be. While Aperol Spritz may hog the limelight, it’s not the only libation on offer. If the bittersweet orange flavours of Aperol isn’t your thing, a Negroni or perhaps a Campari G&T is also available.
Nibbles and food is provided for free when you’re drinking in Italy
Unbeknown to me, I wondered how the Italians do Happy Hour. As I would soon learn, nibbles and food is provided for free when you’re drinking in Italy, and staying true to Italian traditions, Hotel Xenia offers a buffet style assortment of Italian appetising favourites with your drinks. We’re not talking about a full-blown buffet with an array of hot- food, but rather, all the parmesan cheese you could want and as much bread, pickles and olives as you want. I wondered why this isn’t common in the UK.
For a bit more, there is the option of ordering something a little more substantial from the Xenia kitchen. An assortment of bite-sized portions of sustenance such as pillowy soft gnocchi smothered in pesto and tomato salsa on a bed of crunchy bruschetta, beautifully presented on a narrow wooden board. But I’d advise you, while it perfectly complements your Aperol concoction. It won’t satiate any appetites as big as mine. Nevertheless, I do appreciate the extra choices here.
As I took a moment to soak up the relaxed ambience of the hotel terrace, ably helped by the sound of jazz gently playing in the background, it was plain to me how ideal Hotel Xenia aperitivo time would be for business meetings, as it is suitable for a casual catch-up with a friend. And it can only get better when the sun’s out on a warm summer’s day and the terrace is open. Mondays is very quiet so avoid visiting then if you want a bit more buzz around you. I’d expect it to be busier on weekends.
True to the hotel name, (Xenia means hospitality in ancient Greek btw), the service was excellent. I felt well-looked after and the level of service was impeccable, befitting the hotel’s name.
It’s true, no-one does happy hour quite like the Italians, and thanks to Hotel Xenia, us lucky Londoner’s don’t have to fly all the way to Italy to experience the real deal.
✨ DECOR & AMBIENCE: 4.0/5
🤵🏻 SERVICE: 4.0/5
🌟 OVERALL: 4.0/5
🍴 Type/Cuisine: Italian
📍 Location: 160 Cromwell Road, SW5 0TL
🗣 Social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
🌏 Website: http://www.hotelxenia.co.uk/dining/aperitivo-terrace
English Wine doesn’t get anywhere near the same level of praise it deserves compared to wines from other parts of the world. So, to celebrate this coming English Wine Week (25 May – 2 June 2019), leading English winemakers Chapel Down has teamed up with modern European restaurant Florentine in Waterloo to create an exquisite 3-course sharing menu paired with fine English wine to showcase just how good they really are.
Pork belly with homemade apple purée served with a glass Pinot Noir? Don’t mind if I do.
A quick glance at the menu told me I was in for a treat. Mackerel fillet with oranges, cherry tomatoes and sorrel served with Bacchus Reserve white wine for starters? Yes please. Pork belly with homemade apple purée served with a glass Pinot Noir? Don’t mind if I do. Rhubarb crumble and Eton Mess with a Nectar Dessert Wine? Keep it coming.
Expectation continued to be exceeded with the sumptuous roasted pork belly.
I can’t even begin to describe how enjoyable the meal was. The mackerel fillet wasn’t fishy at all. Delicate but intensely creamy in texture which complemented perfectly with the sweet apricot notes of the Bacchus Reserve White wine. It’s healthy too. Expectation continued to be exceeded with the sumptuous roasted pork belly. Satisfyingly crispy skin and tender pull-apart porky goodness which paired brilliantly with the fragrant spices of the red Pinot Noir. All this and I’ve not even mentioned the beautiful rich organic salmon with English asparagus and lemon tahini yoghurt, or the delightfully sweet Eton Mess with Nectar Dessert Wine.
Designed to share between 2 people, my partner in crime and I were pretty stuffed at the end, and I have a pretty big appetite. Trust me, you won’t be leaving hungry.
Why not celebrate English Wine Week and win a second date while you’re at it?
There’s no better place to celebrate the wonderful world of English wines. If you want my advice, bring a date. Florentine is a snazzy place not too far from the London Eye, and the perfect venue for a special occasion. Why not celebrate English Wine Week and win a second date while you’re at it? Since my last visit, I thought the sophisticated surroundings of Florentine makes it a sound choice for a date and I still think so.
Six dishes to share, 4 glasses of wine including an aperitif to? Sounds like a pretty good deal to me and the perfect way to celebrate English Wine Week. Chapel Down and Florentine have created something pretty special here. It’s just a touch sad it’s only around for a limited time.
English are just as good as any wine. We just don’t know it yet.
English wines are just as good as any wine in the world. We just don’t know it yet. I certainly before I was invited to try it for myself. Do what I did and visit the Florentine from Thursday 23 May – 31 May and get a glimpse into the wonderful world of English Wines with Chapel Down.
I’ve visited Chinese, Malaysian, Korean, Japanese and Thai restaurants, but never Vietnamese. So I did something about it, and after this recent visit to Pho & Bun on forever buzzing Shaftesbury Avenue, I’m already planning my next visit.
Bang in the middle of town with Soho on one side and Chinatown on the other, I waltzed in on my lonesome on a pretty wet and gloomy Friday night in need of some comfort ‘pick me up’ food. Immediately, I was greeted by a cheerful staff who guided me to my table in the basement dining area.
By dinner time, this popular place was alive with the sound of talkative tables
Looking around, I was glad I had a reservation. By dinner time, this popular place was alive with the sound of talkative tables celebrating the end of the day or theatre-goers getting some pre-show grub before at one of the nearby theatres. Space is a premium here and the low tables are so close you can find yourself rubbing shoulders with your neighbours. If you are lucky, you might be able to nab a table in the cosier basement dining area.
You’ve got to hand it to Vietnam for coming up with an array of vibrant and bold array of dishes and the menu reflects that. I gave up trying to decide what to have and asked for recommendation instead. It also saved me from the embarrassment of butchering the pronunciation the names of the Vietnamese dishes.
I went traditional as I could and ordered summer rolls with tigers prawns (Gỏi Cuốn Tôm), Pho with wok fried garlic beef (Bò Tái Lăn), and to satisfy any sweet cravings, deep fried bao buns with salted duck egg custard.
The four summer rolls were beautifully presented and bursting with fresh herbs, satisfyingly crunchy veggies, silky glass noodles, and fresh tiger prawns. I’d highly encourage anyone to liberally dunk them in the accompanying peanut sauce.
All this swims in a 24-hour cooked broth so rich, it might as well be a dish in its own right.
Pho is as quintessentially Vietnamese as fish & chips are here in the UK. As a superfan of garlic I was sold on the Bò Tái Lăn – pho with wok-fried garlic beef. The semi-wide rice noodles were soft and silky. The wok-fried tender strips of beef were flavourful with garlic but not so overpowering. All this swims in a 24-hour cooked broth so rich, it might as well be a dish in its own right. If that’s not fragrant enough already, crunchy veggies like beansprouts, herby coriander, fiery red chillis and lime juice are brought out as a side dish for me to freshen it up.
I was told the pho here is the best in town (their words not mine). After slurping every last drop of that fragrant broth, I’d say it’s right up there, for now.
Finally, onto dessert and it is here I should warn you not to let your curiosity get the better of you. The deep-fried bao bun with salted duck egg custard is unique, but it won’t satisfy the sweetest of tooth. Buns are, well, just deep-fried and the saltiness of the egg custard won’t be for everyone.
It’s the closest I felt to being in Vietnam without leaving London.
While I braced myself for the imminent food coma, I admired the decor around me. The distinctly Vietnamese features such as the low tables, fake graffiti on the walls, a flag of Vietnam, brick-and-mortar exposed walls and a tiki-themed bar provided a glimpse into what the streets of Hanoi must be like. It’s the closest I felt to being in Vietnam without leaving London.
It’s not just the food that impressed. The staff are stars too. Helpful with recommendations and well-up for a good chat if you’re willing to engage. Honestly, a good bunch of people.
I’ve long held the impression that Vietnamese was vibrant in colour, fresh in ingredients and bold in flavour. There was nothing to change my perception and why you’ll find me slurping pho again.
It’s a great choice if you’re before looking some pre-theatre food before a show, or simply catching up with pals in Soho.
All you need for a good dining experience is a delicious array of food delivered speedily, good company, and a relaxed, casual setting. You’ll get it here at Pho & Bun. It’s a great choice if you’re before looking some pre-theatre food before a show, or catching up with pals in Soho, or in need of some warming, comfort food. And if budget is tight, then Happy Hour will be able to help you out – it’s 20% off your total bill from 3-5pm and 9pm onwards. Sounds good to me.
✨ DECOR AMBIENCE: 3.8/5.
🤵🏻 SERVICE: 3.9/5
🍸 FOOD: 4.1/5
🌟 OVERALL: 3.9/5
How many venues can you think of that specialises in meatballs? Not many I assume. This is where Ballroom comes in. But in a city where burgers and pizzas rules, will it make Londoners sit up and take notice?
Ballroom transforms into a basement speakeasy cocktail bar apparently bringing the vibe of New York’s drinking den to Londoners.
Firstly, it’s a unique place just around the corner from the looming Walkie-Talkie. By day it’s a cafe serving the “I am important’ suits of the city. By night, Ballroom transforms into a basement speakeasy cocktail bar apparently bringing the vibe of New York’s drinking den to Londoners. I dig the torn walls that revealed the brick-and-mortar underneath, the on-trend neon signs as well as the low-lit setting created by the little tea lights from the tables. It’s casual with talkative tables but it’s also quite small – just big enough to host around 60 thirsty diners.
I personally don’t mind, but others might find it a bit too overpowering.
The star of the show is, of course, the meatballs. Whilst delicious, I can’t say it blew my mind. The beef meatballs worked well with the rich and tangy tomato sauce and had a chunky texture, generously seasoned with some sort of herb (oregano?). I personally don’t mind, but others might find it a bit too overpowering. Other options are also available such as Thai chicken and lamb meatballs, although I leave judgement to those who’ve tried it.
The cocktail menu is a little surprisingly short – 4-5 cocktails featuring classics like the Negroni and Old Fashioned. It’s done very well, but with such a cool speakeasy vibe, I expected a slightly more extensive cocktail list. The usual red, white, and beer is available as is customary.
So, will it make Londoner’s sit up and take notice? Probably not, but it is uniquely different. Ballroom is worth considering if you’re after a good drink in a speakeasy atmosphere in the corporate surroundings of the City.
✨ DECOR AMBIENCE: 3.75 / 5.
🤵🏻 SERVICE: 4.0 / 5
🍸 FOOD: 3.5 / 5
🌟 OVERALL: 3.75 / 5
Scottish restaurants don’t tend to get as much attention as some of the more celebrated European cuisines in London. Sophisticated that those restaurants ostensibly appear, I am a firm believer that food from this little island we call Britain can rival any cuisine in the world and so, I was excited at finally experiencing some Scottish hospitality for the first time right here in Fitzrovia.(more…)